Tips to Help Seniors Avoid the Stomach Flu

There are a number of different common viruses and illnesses that seniors are more prone to than others. One of these very common viruses is the stomach flu. It is a very contagious illness and one that seniors are very susceptible to as seniors often have a more compromised immune system and are more susceptible to issues such as this.

The flu virus includes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and severe dehydration. Many seniors also suffer from a fever. This stomach flu, also known as Norovirus, is very contagious and often spreads not only among the elderly, but in places like senior living and healthcare facilities where there are lots of seniors living in one area.

The Norovirus is very contagious, but there are a few ways that seniors can avoid the stomach flu and help put up better defenses against this illness.

  • Norovirus is typically spread by eating contaminated food or touching contaminated surfaces and then putting their hands in their mouth. With this in mind, washing your hands and avoiding putting your hands near your mouth is your best line of defense. This means washing with warm soap and water.
  • Seniors can easily get the Norovirus by having direct contact with an infected person or their vomit or diarrhea. This is why seniors should not only avoid others who are sick, but caregivers should be very careful about those with the stomach flu.
  • Use hand sanitizer. Washing your hands with soap and water is important, especially before and after handling food. Hand sanitizer is also a great option, particularly when you are on-the-go and unable to get to soap and water.
  • Clean the home. Seniors, or their caregivers should take extra care when cleaning their home. They should do their best to disinfect all contaminated surfaces in the home. Pay close attention to light switches, phones and remote controls (all things that tend to be touched quite often).
  • Seniors should not share hand towels with an infected person or visit those who are sick. Individuals who have the Norovirus should stay isolated for as long as possible.
  • Seniors should hydrate all season long, whether they are showing signs of the Norovirus or not. Hydrated seniors are less likely to get seriously ill or so dehydrated that they need to go to the hospital.

Should seniors catch the Norovirus, and they have issues with dehydration and recovering for three days or more—they need to contact their physician. Typically, the Norovirus will start to resolve by then, but if it doesn’t, additional medical intervention may be needed.

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