According to the American Academy of Family Physicans, infectious diseases account for one- third of all deaths in people over the age of 65. This is most commonly caused by weakened immune systems, the aging process and long-term hospital stays. As a caregiver, it is important to stay alert to any subtle changes in your loved one’s health, since typical symptoms that warn of illness, such as fever, present differently in the elderly. Symptoms to watch for include loss of appetite, mental changes and falls.
Stay proactive and prevent infection by following these tips:
- Skincare. As our loved one ages, it is important to remove any bacteria or germs that may be living on their thin skin. Practice good hygiene by ensuring they bathe daily and regularly brush their teeth. Personal bath towels also are recommended to eliminate the risk of cross contamination.
- Vaccines: The flu, pneumonia and shingles are serious and life-threatening health conditions among seniors. Getting vaccinated annually is an easy preventative measure that could be life-saving for your loved one.
- Frequently wash your hands: As the caregiver, you likely assist your loved one with everyday activities. Most infections caught by those over the age of 65 are caused from hand-to-hand contact, so it is important to wash your hands frequently before food preparations, as well as after exposure to crowds and small children. Using hand sanitizer also is an effective way to kill germs
- Eating Healthy: Build up your loved one’s immune system and combat infection by ensuring they drink plenty of water and eat fruits and vegetables that are rich in minerals and fiber. Super foods that are known to increase immunity include kale, broccoli, avocados and berries. Also, consider talking to a doctor about adding multivitimins, probiotics and Omega 3s to their diet.
Quality of life is an important factor in the fight against disease. Make sure your loved one gets enough sleep and tries to engage in some relaxing and fun physical activities, even if it is just a little laughter!
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