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Flu Season Has Arrived

Posted January 09, 2013 in Advice Column, Greene County

Getting a flu shot is the most important step in protecting yourself from contracting one of the many strains of flu this season. It is especially important for those who are more likely to develop serious complications from the flu.

The Center for Disease Control identifies this group as: people 65 and older, pregnant women and those with medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, chronic lung disease and heart disease. This includes their family members and caregivers. It’s not too late. Flu shots can be administered by your local home care agency. In many cases flu vaccinations given by your home health nurse are covered by Medicare.

The second most important precaution is thorough hand washing, especially after coughing or sneezing. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away. Cough or sneeze into your elbow if you do not have a tissue handy. Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth, and stay home when you are sick.

Complications from the flu are pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections. People with asthma may experience asthma attaches. Those with chronic congestive heart failure may have a worsening of their condition. These complications may lead to being hospitalized.

If you find yourself or a loved one in this situation you may find it comforting to know that home care may help you recover faster once you return home. A registered nurse will perform an in home health assessment and develop a plan based on your individual needs that may include the following:

Medication management
There may be new medications to take or a change in the way or time you take your current medication. A registered nurse can set up medications and arrange for someone to call to provide a gentle reminder to take your medications.

Home health aide
It’s not unusual to feel weak after a hospitalization. It takes a lot of energy to take care of one’s self after coming home from the hospital. A home health aide can assist with personal cares and hygiene.  He or she can do light housework and prepare a light meal. Good nutrition and adequate hydration will speed one’s recovery.

Physical therapy
It’s amazing how fast we lose muscle strength after an illness. Physical therapy can help you regain your strength, increase range of motion and improve balance. This may reduce the risk of falling and sustaining a serious fracture.

The goal of home care is to provide the extra help you need to recover from an illness or hospitalization so you can thrive at home.

Information provided by Melanie Ervin, RN, COS-C, Iowa Home Care, Boone Branch Manager, 515-432-4430.

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