Keeping seniors healthy during flu season


Flu season is upon us.  In Canada, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue as late as May. Between 10% and 20% of the population will get the flu each year, with certain people experiencing higher risk complications or hospitalization, including, for example, those over 65 years old.

Hospitalization, although sometimes necessary, can decrease a person’s independence and involve a lengthy rehabilitation process.  This can be stressful for the patient, and for his or her family.  Ideally, seniors would avoid the flu altogether.

We asked Lynn, a Registered Practical Nurse and the Care Services Manager at Seasons Welland for some helpful tips for keeping healthy this flu season:

See your doctor

Seniors should get a yearly physical and the flu shot. It’s the most effective way to ensure you don’t catch the flu.  You can also talk to your doctor about nutrition and possible need of a vitamin supplement.

Eat right

A well-balanced diet, as per Canada’s Food Guide, will help fortify your body.  If your appetite is poor, speak with your doctor and consider a liquid meal replacement once a day. Your doctor can refer you to a dietician if nutrition is a concern.

Wash your hands

This is paramount!  Hand sanitizers work when soap and water isn’t convenient. Make sure the sanitizer is 70% alcohol based.

Cover your mouth

Try coughing and sneezing into your elbow to avoid spreading germs to your hands, which can be easily passed on to others.


Be sure to keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water.

Get a good night’s sleep

Try to keep your bedtime routine consistent.  If you nap during the day, try to limit it to just 30-45 minutes.  If you’re always feeling tired during the day, try a new hobby to keep yourself alert.

Stay active

Talk to your friends and family for new and fun activities to try.  Keep as physically active as you can: short walks in the hallways of your house or apartment or the local mall. Gentle chair exercises are good; you can get DVDs at the library, or join a senior-friendly exercise class at your local community center or gym.  Remember to always speak with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise regime.

Stay home

If, despite your best efforts, you’re feeling unwell, stay home and rest.  Drink lots of fluids and contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms increase after 24 to 48 hours.

These simple rules can help seniors stay healthy and independent, and hopefully avoid the dreaded flu.  Always speak to your doctor or healthcare provider when you feel unwell, or call Telehealth at 1-866-797-000 to talk to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Contributor: Lynn has been an RPN for 30 years, and has dedicated her entire career to senior care.


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