Staying Healthy: Keep Up With Immunizations & Infection Control
Germs are everywhere. Though the immune system often does a good job of protecting itself and fighting off bacteria and viruses, it can weaken as you age, or as the result of certain medical conditions or treatments. Fortunately, there are ways that you can support your immune system and overall health, especially as you get older.
Keep Up With Recommended Vaccinations
You may have received a variety of vaccinations as a child, but there are other immunizations that are recommended for older adults. Vaccinations can prevent or significantly reduce the likelihood of you becoming sick or experiencing severe symptoms. Stay up-to-date and get any necessary boosters to strengthen your body’s defenses. Common immunizations and vaccinations for seniors include:
- Flu vaccine (annual)
- Pneumonia vaccine (annual)
- Covid-19 vaccine (as recommended)
- Shingles vaccine
- Td or Tdap (tetanus/diphtheria or tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis)
Some seniors may also be encouraged to get Hepatitis B or HPV vaccines, or vaccinations relevant to any travel they have planned. Talk with your doctor to develop an appropriate vaccination plan for your health.
Take Steps To Reduce Risk Of Infection
In addition to staying current with vaccinations, there are other ways that you can decrease your exposure to germs, reduce risk of common infections, and support your immune system.
- Wash your hands frequently. This includes after using the restroom, before and after preparing food, and after coming in contact with high-touch surfaces such as door handles, elevator buttons, railings, countertops, and credit card machines. If soap and water isn’t available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your face. Try to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible. These are some of the easier places for germs to enter your body.
- Stay away from individuals who are ill. If someone you know has a cold, the flu, or another potentially contagious disease, wait to visit with them until they are feeling better.
- Finish antibiotics. If you are given a prescription, make sure you take it until it is gone. Even if you feel better, don’t stop the antibiotic early or the infection may return.
- Clean and bandage any wounds. Open cuts or sores also provide easy access for bacteria or germs to enter your body and cause infection. Make sure you keep wounds clean and change dressings regularly to promote healing.
- Stay home if you are not feeling well. If you are starting to feel ill or just getting over being sick, make sure you get plenty of rest and stay home. Your immune system may already be weakened, and you don’t want to risk exposing yourself (or others) to more germs.
Be smart about where you go, what you do, and who you come in contact with. Be vigilant about cleaning your home, wiping down surfaces, and replacing air filters. While you can’t prevent all contact with bacteria or viruses, you can do your part to minimize your exposure.
An in-home caregiver can help you stay on top of light housekeeping, provide medication reminders, schedule appointments, and run local errands for you, especially if you are at higher risk for illness. They can also assist you with meal planning and preparation to ensure you’re eating a well-balanced diet to boost your immune health.