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Flu vs. COVID-19: What’s the Difference?

For years, October through May has been known as flu season, because that is the time of year when cases are the highest. But this year, another disease is out in full force as well: COVID-19. While there are some similarities between these two viruses, there are also some notable differences.

Seniors may be at higher risk for developing more serious cases of COVID-19 or experiencing complications from the virus. Since these diseases are caused by two different viruses – the influenza virus and the coronavirus – it is possible to be infected by both at once. It is important for seniors to be aware of potential symptoms and let their doctor know if they believe they may have either disease.

Similarities Between the Flu and COVID-19

It can be difficult to differentiate between these two viruses because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified numerous overlapping symptoms including:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pains or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting or diarrhea (more common in children)

Differences Between the Flu and COVID-19

Loss of taste/smell: One major difference in symptoms is that COVID-19 can cause a loss of taste or smell, and this not common with the flu. If you notice that you suddenly have trouble smelling your morning cup of coffee (and it’s not just because of nasal congestion), or foods taste differently than they normally do, you may want to let your doctor know so that you can be tested for COVID-19.

Incubation time: Another difference is that you typically begin developing symptoms of the flu within one to four days of exposure. With COVID-19, it can take anywhere from two to 14 days for symptoms to develop. In addition, COVID-19 appears to spread more quickly than the flu.

Presence of symptoms: With both the flu and COVID-19, individuals can range from asymptomatic to mild to severe cases. However, it appears that COVID-19 is associated with more severe illness than the flu, though this can vary from one person to the next. COVID-19 currently has a higher rate of mortality than the flu, and seems to cause more significant lung damage.

Treatment: There are a few antivirals that may be used to treat the flu and reduce symptoms, but currently only one antiviral – remdesivir – has been approved to treat COVID-19, and its effectiveness is still being studied.

Vaccinations: The flu vaccine has been around for decades. It changes every year based on what strain of the disease scientists believe will be most prevalent. The COVID-19 vaccine was just released in December 2020, and received an emergency use authorization. There are currently two vaccines being administered with more in development. Much like the flu vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine could prevent you from getting the virus or reduce the severity of the illness.

Preventing the Flu and COVID-19

To reduce your risk of contracting either of these viruses, the following safety precautions are recommended:

  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Wipe down commonly touched surfaces with an approved disinfectant.
  • Stay at least six feet away from others when possible.
  • Wear a mask when social distancing is not possible.
  • Avoid mass gatherings and poorly ventilated areas.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, or nose as much as possible.

If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting tested. The tests for influenza and COVID-19 are different, so you may be tested for both if your doctor is unsure. Continue practicing good hygiene and safety to reduce your risk of becoming ill.

Always Best Care takes safety seriously, and all in-home caregivers follow strict protocols regarding COVID-19. They are taking appropriate steps to protect themselves and the seniors they care for. To learn more or schedule a free consultation, contact Always Best Care at (855) 470-2273.


Why Getting an Annual Flu Shot is Essential for Senior Health

Flu season is in full swing, but if you haven’t already gotten your flu shot, it’s not too late. You can still get one now to help protect you during the coming months. According to the CDC, “People 65 years and older are at high risk of developing serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults.” Also, given the current coronavirus pandemic, it is even more essential for seniors to take precautions against getting sick.

The flu virus is constantly changing, and scientists update the vaccine each year to align with what they predict the most common strains will be. That means that you need to get a new shot every year. Although it does not guarantee that you will not get sick, it can help lessen the severity of symptoms if you do.

Even though you have likely been exposed to more flu viruses during your lifetime, as you age, your immune system weakens leaving you more susceptible to illness and complications. In battling the flu, you could be at higher risk for developing pneumonia or bronchitis, which can be difficult to overcome. This puts a lot of strain on your body and can lead to hospital stays and lingering effects.

A Flu Shot Just for Seniors

Recognizing this increased risk, scientists have developed specialized flu shots just for seniors. The high-dose vaccine contains four times the amount of antigens as the standard flu shot. The adjuvanted flu vaccine contains a substance that also boosts immune response and can help ward off the flu virus. Studies have shown that this can be an effective way of helping to prevent illness in addition to usual safety precautions such as regularly washing your hands and avoiding contact with people who are sick.

In addition, individuals who are age 65 or older can also get a pneumococcal vaccine to help protect against pneumonia, another common illness that often develops during flu season as well and that can be a complication of the flu.

Staying Safe

Talk to your doctor about which flu shot may be the best option for you, and whether or not you should also receive the pneumococcal vaccine. Many insurance plans, including Medicare Part B, cover flu vaccines at no cost to you. There are also many sites that provide free or low-cost shots because they want to help people stay healthy and reduce their risk of contracting the flu. Keep in mind that it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective, so the sooner you get it, the better.

Continuing to wear a mask and practicing social distancing can also help to reduce not just the spread of the coronavirus, but also of the flu. It can add another layer of protection and keep you from spreading as many germs if you happen to be sick.

To minimize your exposure and ensure that you’re still receiving the level of care you need, hiring an in-home caregiver can be beneficial. This allows you to have someone there who can help you with a wide range of tasks and provide the support you need to safely age in place. Call Always Best Care today at (855) 470-2273 to schedule a free consultation.


Incorporating More Fruits & Vegetables into Your Diet

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is a key part of good health, especially for seniors. Replacing processed foods with fresh options ensures that you’re receiving more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Summer is a wonderful time to find fresh produce of all colors or try your hand at growing your own. September is “Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Month,” and the perfect time to make a conscious effort to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Check Out the Farmers Market

If you like to buy local or are not impressed with your grocery store’s selection or prices, head out to the farmers market. You can buy fresh produce that is locally grown and talk to the owners about what they have, how it’s grown, and some options for use. You may discover some fruits and vegetables you’ve never tried before, or learn new ways to prepare them.

Blend Them In

An easy way to add more produce to your diet is to blend it into foods that you already eat. Mix up a smoothie with freshly frozen fruit and throw in a small handful of spinach or kale for an extra punch of nutrients. Bake some banana bread or zucchini bread, or blend up carrots, onions, and greens to add to your spaghetti sauce. You can also buy pasta that has vegetables incorporated into it already.

Toss Them on Top

If you’re making scrambled eggs, toss in some tomato, green pepper, onion, mushrooms, and/or spinach and make it a western omelet. Add fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or banana slices on top of yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, or pancakes. If you’re making soup or pizza, increase the number of vegetables that are already included, and decrease the amount of meat or pasta.

Spice Things Up

Some people turn their nose up at fresh, steamed, or roasted vegetables because they aren’t sold on the taste. Enhance the flavor by seasoning them with a variety of herbs and spices. You can change up the combinations and how the vegetables are cooked to see what you like best. For fresh veggies, try dipping them in hummus or a low-calorie dressing or dip.

Start Slowly

You don’t have to change your entire diet overnight. Make simple switches a little bit at a time. A good rule of thumb is that half of your plate should be vegetables and fruits, so slowly start cutting back on the carbs or meat and adding more produce and plant-based protein. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter or in the refrigerator so that when you want a snack, you can reach for something healthy.

Rather than relying on a lot of supplements, try to get your vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from the foods you eat. Focus on eating a wide variety of foods and challenging yourself to try new things. If you have trouble organizing or preparing meals or getting groceries, an in-home care provider can ensure you have everything you need and help with these tasks. This way, you’ll know that you have access to healthy foods and meals every day. Always Best Care’s in-home caregivers can also assist with a wide range of other tasks to help you age in place more safely and comfortably. Contact us today at (855) 470-2273 to learn more and schedule a free consultation.

Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

Staying active is healthy for the body and the mind. Not only does exercise keep your body fit and flexible and help ward off disease and injury, it can boost your mood and alleviate stress. Some seniors find that they are not able to be as active as they were in their younger years, but that is no reason to stop. There are numerous fitness classes and activities geared toward the needs of seniors to encourage them to safely keep moving. One such activity is yoga.

Yoga is an exercise that can be done by people of all ages, but seniors may find that it has some attractive benefits. For one, it involves slow, measured movements making it easier to keep up. Plus, it is low-impact so there is less risk of injury and pressure on joints. Furthermore, it can be done virtually anywhere and requires no equipment. Here are some other benefits of getting involved with yoga:

Balance and Flexibility. Yoga is a great way to gently stretch muscles and bend joints. Seniors are focused on how their body is moving and holding each position. As positions become more familiar, balance and stability improve. In addition, these movements can enhance range of motion and flexibility. As a result, this can decrease risk of falls and injury. Seniors are able to stay upright and catch themselves if they start to falter.

Mobility. Because yoga helps to strengthen and stretch muscles, it may reduce joint pain. Many seniors find that regular exercise decreases stiffness and enables them to move around more easily. This can allow seniors to age in place more safely because they are able to maintain greater independence.

Stress. Yoga can be very relaxing. It gives seniors something positive to focus on and a way to relieve pent up stress and energy. Exercise also releases endorphins which are a natural mood booster. Many people find yoga to be a wonderful way to clear their mind and improve how they feel. They are able to control their breathing and lower blood pressure. In turn, all of this can help decrease depression and anxiety.

Sleep. Because seniors feel more relaxed after yoga and their mind is no longer racing, it can be easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. It also burns off excess energy and provides a calming effect allowing them to settle in for the night.

Yoga is also an activity that seniors can do with friends. In a group setting, it allows them to socialize and feel connected to others doing something they enjoy. This can be beneficial to maintaining greater independence and mental health as well.

Always Best Care offers seniors the level of the support and individualized care they need to safely age in place. Whether helping them find activities to engage in such as yoga, assisting with meal prep and light housekeeping, or providing companionship, in-home caregivers can play an integral role in senior living. Learn more about available services and schedule a free consultation by contacting Always Best Care today at (855) 470-2273.

Celebrating the Important Role of Fathers in Our Lives

As Father’s Day quickly approaches, we are reminded of the men in our lives and the important role they play. Fathers are half of the traditional family unit and play an integral part of raising healthy, happy, well-adjusted children. Even when children are grown, their relationship with their father is still an important one in their life.

So, what makes dads so great?

They teach life skills.

Fathers can be wonderful teachers of life skills. Remember those days when your dad taught you how to make repairs or assemble things such as furniture, toys, or equipment on your own? Or how you learned to be a master griller or gardener like your father. Spending time doing these activities when your young and passing this knowledge and skill along to future generations is what makes your father special. Fathers and children have a special relationship whether it be sports, music, art, golfing, fishing, or something completely different.

They can be lifelong friends.

Bonds between dads and their children can last forever. Even grown adults tend to turn to their fathers for advice and support. They may ask for help doing something just to spend time together or get their father’s opinion. There is always more to learn and share. And when the tables turn, children are often happy to be able to give back and take care of aging parents in return for all that their parents have done for them. What started out as a father helping the child get dressed or make breakfast, ends up being the child helping the father.

This Father’s Day – and every day – show your father how much you care and how much he means to you. Do something special and spend time together, whether in person, on the phone, or via a video call. Share stories and reminisce. Make plans for something you’ll do together in the future.

And if your father needs a little more help than you can provide in order to age in place safely and comfortably, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Always Best Care offers high-quality in-home care to meet all of your dad’s needs, whether that’s help with morning or bedtime routines, preparing meals, straightening up their home, or having a companion to talk to or accompany on outings. Contact us today at (855) 470-2273 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about available senior services.