NHS England is worried about rising flu rates, which are twice as high as they were this time last year. ‘Aussie' Flu is particularly virulent and over 500 people have been hospitalised with it since October. Signs of this flu condition can last more than two weeks so if you can take steps to avoid getting it you should do.
Here are some tips to consider:
Get a flu jab. Everyone over the age of 65, living in the UK is eligible for a flu jab and is encouraged to take up this free NHS service to protect themselves from the flu virus, which can be unpredictable and serious. You can get a flu jab at your GP’s surgery or at participating pharmacies. Using my family and myself as a guideline I feel that this year the flu jab has been very effective. It is not too late to get vaccinated so do consider it.
Keep warm. During the cold winter months, it is advisable to wear several layers of clothing, rather than one thick layer. Clothes that are made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres help to maintain body heat, and are better than silky and thin materials that don’t insulate well. This is a very practical way of dressing as you can easily add or take off as layer as you wish.
Keep mobile. Try not to sit still for more than an hour at a time. Even simply standing up to stretch your legs for a few moments can help to increase your body temperature. If you have good mobility, moderate exercise is a great way of keeping warm when temperatures are low. Our CAREGivers help our clients keep active and can help with exercise regimes.
Have plenty of warm drinks. When you get up to stretch, why not make yourself a hot drink to help keep you warm? You should also try to eat at least one hot meal a day. Making sure warm foods and drink are going into your system will keep your weight up and contribute to keeping your body temperature up. It is also quite comforting to have a mug of tea or coffee to hold whilst sitting.
See your pharmacist if you aren’t feeling well. Even if you have just a cough or a cold, your pharmacist might be able to help you prevent it from becoming more serious. If you can’t physically get to a pharmacy, make sure to call them to discuss your symptoms. If you need more urgent advice, ring the NHS helpline on 111.
Keep your medicine cabinet stocked. If you treat early-onset symptoms of illness they are less likely to develop into anything more serious. By keeping your medicine cabinet stocked, you could avoid having to go out in the cold, if you do find yourself unwell. According to the NHS if you feel slightly unwell the best thing to do is to stay at home, rest, keep warm and drink plenty of fluids and have occasional painkillers. If the symptoms worsen you should take medical advice.
Consider other vaccinations available – my grandmother (83 years old) has had vaccinations for pneumonia and shingles which are vaccinations which last many years plus she has a flu jab every year. She is convinced this is why she has not suffered from any flu symptoms in recent years whereas her friends who have not had the vaccinations have been bed bound for several weeks.
At Home Instead, our wonderful CAREGivers can help older people to stay well and can help with many of the tips mentioned here. Just contact me, Victoria, to discuss what we can do to help. Telephone 01992 666777.