The winter months bring snow, the holidays, and family gatherings. Unfortunately, they also bring the dreaded cold and flu season. For frail senior clients, this time of year can be particularly hazardous, as even a minor cold or a touch of the flu can develop dangerous complications. To ensure the safety of senior clients, there are many ways agencies can promote cold and flu prevention, and it all starts with caregivers.
For many clients, caregivers are the prime source of contact, particularly when winter weather prevents going outside or family and friends from visiting. Because of this, caregivers are often the ones who introduce cold and flu viruses to clients, and agency owners should take strides to ensure their caregivers are as healthy as possible and trained at preventing the spread of colds. Here are a few tips to keep clients cold-free during the winter months:
- Vaccinate. Some states require caregivers and health care workers to receive flu vaccinations each year. If your state does not require vaccinations, consider making it a an agency policy. Additionally, clients age 65 and over should also be encouraged to get a flu vaccination to protect themselves from contracting the virus.
- Sanitize. The cold virus can live on surfaces for several hours, so caregivers should be diligent about cleanliness during this time of year. Purchase travel-size hand sanitizer for caregivers to use before and after client visits. Encourage them to also sanitize frequently touched surfaces like countertops, phone receivers, and doorknobs that could have been contaminated by visitors.
- Clear the air. Certain air purifiers can filter out bacteria and germs that accumulate in household air. Encourage clients to purchase an air purifier with a HEPA filter, or consider investing in several small, portable ones to help combat germs in clients’ homes.
- Stay hydrated and eat healthy. Green tea, orange juice, spinach and broccoli are a few of the anti-oxidant rich foods and beverages that are often recommended to help fight colds. Infuse senior clients’ diets with cold fighting foods for an extra immunity boost.
- Exercise. Exercise is another immunity booster that both caregivers and clients should keep up with during cold and flu season. Have caregivers work on some safe indoor exercises to keep clients in cold-fighting shape.
Fighting colds during the winter is an essential part of client care, so make sure you’re doing your due diligence to keep everyone happy and healthy this cold and flu season. Have any cold prevention tips?
Source: Private Duty Homecare Association