NJ Elder Health

Here are some excellent tips to help a senior avoid getting sick this winter – or what to do if they catch the flu or pneumonia.

Here are symptoms to look out for with various forms of pneumonia:

  • Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia, which often appear suddenly, include shaking chills, pain in the chest, shortness of breath, a high fever, sweating, and coughing up thick yellow or green phlegm.
  • Warning signs of viral pneumonia include: headache, fever, a dry cough that does not bring up phlegm, muscle pain and exhaustion.
  • Signs of more advanced viral pneumonia can include a cough that produces small amounts of white or clear phlegm.
  • Walking pneumonia, which is a milder form of pneumonia, usually produces flu-like symptoms but in much less severe form than other kinds of pneumonia, and is treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms of flu (or swine flu) include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • extreme tiredness
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches

Once your senior develops the flu, it will be important to follow the doctor’s orders, rest, drink a lot of fluids, and avoid alcohol and cigarettes. The more nutritious the fluids, the more helpful they will be. In addition:

  • Talk to your doctor about influenza antiviral drugs that may shorten the flu’s course.
  • Discuss with your doctor the benefits of the flu vaccine and the new vaccines that are coming out for the swine flu.
  • Have them get a pneumonia vaccine, which helps protect against 23 types of bacterial pneumonia.
  • Make sure they minimize their exposure to sick people.
  • Wash their hands often.
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth, which will help prevent any germs from entering the body that may have been picked up through touch.
  • Build up his or her immune system by making sure they get lots of sleep, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, in addition to protein, manage their stress levels and consume fluids.  Fluids help loosen secretions so that the patient can then bring up phlegm.
  • Don’t let your senior do any chores until he or she gets stronger.
  • Give your senior aspirin or acetaminophen to control any fever.
  • Wash your hands before preparing your parent’s food or touching him or her.
  • Try propping your senior up in bed to see if that helps in their breathing.
  • Reassure your senior that he or she should get better soon.
  • If your senior doesn’t recover as soon as expected, speak with his or her doctor about trying another treatment.

Posted by: Frank Esposito, Vice President of Expert Home Care.  New Jersey’s Expert Home Care provides professional and reliable home health care and companion care for NJ elderly, helping them with their daily living activities since 1984. Please call us toll free at 800-848-2336 when you have home care related questions or need assistance for a loved one. Get a Free Home Care Assessment (a $375 value!) when you mention this post.

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