Winter is here again, and in chilly climates such as White Plains, it’s especially important for seniors to take care so they don’t get the flu.
Many seniors are reluctant to visit their doctor for what they perceive as minor symptoms that will go away on their own. They figure, “I’ve lived a long life and survived worse.” Some seniors choose to get the flu shot as a preventive measure; some choose to ride it out if they become ill.
But few fear dying from the flu. Epidemics such as the 1918 influenza pandemic that took the lives of an estimated 50 million people worldwide don’t happen today. And while the improvement in health care over the past century is wonderful, the relaxed concern about serious illness may be part of the problem. Older adults need to be vigilant about good health care, especially as they grow older. However, there is a silver lining.
As Healthy In Your 80s and 90s As In Your 40s and 50s?
Although it’s true that we’re living longer, healthier lives than ever before in history — and “you’re only as old as you feel” — our immunity and recuperative powers late in life are not typically what they were when we were younger. A “little cold” can quickly escalate to pneumonia, whereas the day before it was just an annoying cough.
Yet much depends on a person’s “subjective age” — the way we feel most of the time. Scientists find that people who feel younger than their chronological age (your actual years on the calendar) are typically healthier and more psychologically resilient, i.e., less prone to depression, than people who feel as old or older than their calendar age.
Those with a younger subjective age also perform better on memory tests, and have less risk of cognitive decline than people who assume memory loss is inevitable as they grow older.
In one recent study, researchers scanned the brains of healthy older adults and discovered that those with a youthful subjective age and mindset actually had thicker brains, with less age-related deterioration, than those who “felt every bit their age.” In contrast, those who felt older than their calendar age had a greater risk of being hospitalized, developing dementia, and even dying.
Smart Flu Prevention Strategies
So beyond feeling younger than your chronological age, which is an excellent start, staying free of flu this winter requires a dose of common sense — and diligence. Here are eight simple steps besides the flu vaccine to help seniors in assisted living stay healthy:
- Stay away from anyone who is sick
- Wash your hands often, especially after being in public places
- Clean and disinfect surfaces in your living area regularly
- Maintain a healthy diet to boost immunity (Chef Norm will see to that!)
- Aim to get 7-9 hours of restorative sleep each night
- If you smoke, quit ASAP: smokers have an exaggerated response to the flu
- Get regular exercise to fend off infection and improve sleep
- If you start to feel the least bit “off”, skip whatever activities you had planned and rest.
What to Watch for in Terms of Symptoms
Like other health issues (a urinary tract infection masquerading as memory loss, for example), flu symptoms are often overlooked or misdiagnosed in seniors, which can delay treatment and lead to serious complications, particularly if the elder in question has any chronic conditions.
In older adults, flu symptoms can look like:
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen mouth or throat
- Abdominal pain
- Aggravated heart or lung conditions, such as COPD.
People with diabetes, heart disease or asthma are at higher risk of complications and should be treated with antiviral medication, which can reduce fever and other flu symptoms and shorten the amount of time you’re sick.
How The Kensington White Plains Protects Your Loved One
Because we know how essential it is to keep our senior residents as healthy as possible, The Kensington has numerous medical measures in place to ensure we are able to do just that.
In addition to ’round-the-clock loving care and support, superb nutrition and exercise programs, we have an onsite physician’s office open during regular business hours.
Through our many relationships with the medical community, we have doctors who care for our residents onsite. More than a dozen physicians and specialists come to The Kensington for the convenience of our residents, including internists, cardiologists, a pulmonologist, a neurologist and urologist, as well as psychiatrists, a podiatrist, an endocrinologist, a wound care doctor, and more.
We also have a full-time Director of Nursing and an Assistant Director of Nursing, both of whom are Registered Nurses (RNs). They coordinate all aspects of a resident’s nursing and medical care. We have licensed nurses onsite 24 hours a day as well, and offer medication administration as necessary. We have 12 nurses in the building every day, including four RNs. This includes seven nurses during day hours, and several overnight to assist our residents.
And, our community is located less than a block from White Plains Hospital.
One of Our Own
We’ve pledged to care for our residents as family, and we take this promise to heart. If your loved one is ever concerned or confused about medical care, we offer concierge services and care coordination for their medical needs.
We will gladly schedule appointments with doctors, provide transportation to and from the appointment, and notify family members before and after the doctor’s visit. For emergency hospital visits, the care manager accompanies your loved one to the hospital until family arrives.
You are welcome to stop by any time and meet with our team, talk with residents, join us for a meal, or just stroll around the grounds to get a fuller sense of what The Kensington White Plains has to offer. We look forward to meeting you soon!