The sniffles, the sneezes, the coughing fits, the general groans of despair—there’s no denying that the season of sickness is upon us. It seems like everyone is coming down with something, and everyone is affected to some extent. Plans get cancelled, work gets missed, and general misery seems to make its rounds until spring arrives.

Everyone is at risk for influenza and other illnesses in the winter, but people with compromised immune systems have an even greater chance for getting hit with the bug—and hit even harder. At LifeCare Advantage, we want to impart some wisdom on staying healthy this season, to make sure you’re alive and well this winter, instead of feeling bound to blankets and the couch. Take a look at some of the ways you can stay healthy, and contact our CDPAP agency in Brooklyn to get help with CDPAP enrollment!

Who is most at risk?

While many people can suffer through the flu and bounce back unscathed, not everyone is in the same boat. The elderly in particular experience negative effects of an aging immune system. As the National Institute of Health states, “elderly individuals do not respond to immune challenge as robustly as the young.” Even at a molecular level, our bodies simply can’t fight off illness as easily and as well when we get older. Illnesses can hit much harder, and recovery can be significantly slower—where as you once might have been back to normal in a week, it can take several weeks (or even months) to feel back to normal.

In severe cases, the flu can even cause death for those over 65. The CDC released a report that estimates 71-85 percent of flu-related deaths take place with people 65 and older. This is yet another example of the risks associated with the flu and general illness—and are exactly why it’s imperative to be diligent about your health. Even if you’re not in that age group, you could be putting others at risk if you’re not similarly taking the necessary health precautions.

No matter the age, regardless of if you’re a CDPAP patient or CDPAP caregiver, these are health tips that can make your life (and others’) entirely better.

Wash your hands.

We know, we know—this is apparently everyone’s mantra come the flu season. But just because everyone says the same thing doesn’t mean it’s not true. This is one of the best ways to stay healthy and prevent the spread of germs—to both your body and to others. Many people think—whether subconsciously or not—that since they feel fine, no one else is at risk. Yet the amount of interactions we have with germs that can cause sickness, especially at a time when everything is much more prevalent, are reason enough to protect and prevent illness from spreading.

Anytime you’re about to do something that involves touching your face or touching something close to your face, wash your hands. If you have interacted with someone who was sick, wash your hands. When you get home from running an errand, wash your hands. Before you eat or prepare food, well, you know the drill.

We all know how to wash our hands, but we don’t always do it for the correct amount of time. For washing hands to be most effective, lather and scrub your hands for 20 seconds (or for something more fun, sing Happy Birthday to get the correct amount of time!)

Cover your coughs (correctly).

Seeing someone cough into their hands and then grab a door—or worse, shake your hand *gasp*—is nothing short of alarming. This is one of the worst ways to expel germs and sickness, but is also one that can easily be prevented. When you feel a cough or sneeze coming on, make sure you aim for your inner elbow or upper arm—never your hand. Afterwards, be sure to still wash your hands as a means to prevent any germs from spreading.

Get a flu shot.

Needles are definitely not fun. However, feeling ill for weeks on end—or even ending up hospitalized from a severe case of the flu—will have you groaning and moaning, wistful for the days where you could have gotten the flu shot. For those who are 65 and older, you should also continue getting vaccinated throughout the flu season to continue helping your immune system do its best.

There are certain flu shots that are designed for people over 65. Talk with your primary care physician about which option is best for you.

Eat foods that your immune system loves.

While there might not currently be a single food that zaps the flu in its tracks, there are plenty of foods that can boost your immune system—thus building your defenses against any potential virus. Garlic, mushrooms, avocado, squash, and watermelon are all foods that encourage your immune system to create and release cells that target harmful germs. Yogurt has probiotics which can also boost your immune system, and for the best news of all, dark chocolate has been shown to help your immune system as well. This is your sign to go stock up on Ghiradelli immediately. Additionally, green tea can aid in the prevention of multiplying viruses, due to a specific compound called quercetin. Work with your CDPAP caregiver to make some tasty meals that can help fight against the flu!

Staying healthy might seem like a real challenge, and the truth is, you can do your very best but still end up sick and suffering. Yet if you try each of these things, there’s a good chance that you’ll protect yourself to greater heights than if you did nothing at all. We at LifeCare Advantage are committed to making sure you are cared for, in the best way possible, through this season and all the ones that follow.

Just as staying healthy might seem like a challenge, the process of enrolling with the CDPAP might seem equally as difficult. But with LifeCare Advantage at your side, we can help you get through this process, and starting experiencing the benefits of having a family member caregiver (and staying in your home, as well). Speak with one of our representatives today, we look forward to working with you.