Fighting the flu as a family caregiver

family caregiver

We’ve already touched on the importance of getting vaccinated for the 2012-2013 flu season, which is already widespread in 47 states. Still, family caregivers especially need to take extra precautions to avoid coming down with the flu, as those receiving the care — likely persons 65 and over and/or with weakened immune systems — are the most at risk to be hospitalized or even die from influenza.

The AARP and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shared the following seven tips for fighting the flu:

1. Of course, both caregiver and their loved one should get a flu shot. Beyond that, use soap or hand sanitizer to wash your hands and your care recipient’s hands often, especially after sneezing, handling a tissue, etc.

2. Remember, flu shots don’t guarantee you won’t get sick. This year’s vaccine is about 60 percent effective — which is a good first line of defense.

3. If you or your loved one are a cougher or sneezer, use a tissue and toss it into the trash immediately.

4. Until the flu season is over (typically at the end of winter) avoid shaking hands and sharing food and drinks. The AARP notes that the flu outbreak is “so worrisome that the Catholic Archdiocese has asked priests not to share communion wine or touch congregants hands or tongues and for worshippers not to shake hands.”

5. While not very glamorous, if you’ve come down with the flu or a bad cold it’s suggested you wear a drug store doctor’s mask in addition to staying at home for at least 24 hours after your fever has gone. Same thing goes if you’re caring for someone who is sick.

6. Hand wipes can be your best friend. Use them on door handles, banisters, kitchen counters, etc. — anywhere germs tend to congregate.

7. If your loved one is staying in a health care facility, ask the staff what they’re doing to contain the virus and take any necessary precautions.

Are there any other tips you take to avoid the flu? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

Physicians Choice Private Duty currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

Photo credit: drewleavy via photopin cc

“Physicians Choice Private Duty solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit”