December 6-12, 2015 is National Influenza Awareness Week. Most likely we have all had the flu at some point in our lives. For most of us, being sick with the flu means curling up in bed with a box of tissues and getting lots of sleep. Enduring the virus is miserable, taking time away from work, family, and leisure, but with a few days of rest we are back to work again. For others, such as those who need in home care, the flu can lead to life threatening complications. As the 2015-2016 Flu season kicks into gear, understanding the risks of the flu and the benefits of getting the vaccine is important.
The flu is highly contagious; you can catch it without having physical contact with a sick person. Symptoms can mimic a simple cold – you can even have the flu without a fever. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the flu can spread up to 6 feet away, well within normal conversation space. Also, the flu is contagious from up to a day before symptoms hit to a week after the person becomes sick, and there may be no symptoms.
The young, the elderly, and those with chronic medical conditions are at the highest risk of developing complications from the flu. These complications can lead to hospitalization or even death and can include:
Unfortunately, this means those who need in home care, and their loved ones, need to take extra steps to avoid this common illness. A few extra moments can go a long way toward protecting them from the flu.
Request any visitors wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer upon entering the home. If visitors have had contact with someone who has the flu or have recently come down with the illness, you can also request that they wear a surgical mask when visiting you and your loved ones. Providing both hand sanitizer and masks for guests and in home care attendants can greatly reduce the risk of your loved ones getting sick.
Practicing good personal hygiene is also vital to preventing the spread of the flu. While Influenza is spread mainly by saliva flying through the air while talking, sneezing, or coughing, it can also be spread through physical contact with items touched by those with the flu, such as door knobs, telephones, surfaces, and remotes. Using hand sanitizer, washing your hands with hot soapy water regularly, and coughing or sneezing into your elbow or shoulder also go a long way to protecting loved ones.
The best way to prevent the spread of infection is to get the flu shot, and as National Influenza Vaccination Week approaches, now is the best time to get it. Some people are unable to have the flu shot, such as those with allergies to eggs or compromised immune systems. Therefore, those who can get the vaccine should do so to prevent infecting others. Multiple vaccination options are available, from nasal spray to standard inoculations and a higher dose for those over the age of 65, allowing you to better protect your family from the flu.
For more information about in home care options, contact Neighborly Home Care today at 610-658-5822. Neighborly Home Care is a leading home care provider in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Chester and Delaware County.