As a person ages, their immune system often becomes less effective. As a result, their risk of infections, from pneumonia to skin infections, increases. What starts as a mild infection can often turn dangerous and deadly in an older adult with a weakened immune system. So, it's important to do all that you can to protect your loved one from infection in the first place. Here are three ways to accomplish that.
Hire a Home Call Physician
Hospitals and doctors' offices are places that elderly loved ones tend to visit often, whether it's for a checkup or to have some blood work taken. Unfortunately, since these places are frequented by sick people, they end up being riddled with bacteria that can cause infections. The staff do their best to keep waiting areas clean and germ-free, but there is only so much they can do.
Instead of transporting your elderly loved one to the doctor whenever they need a checkup or basic procedure, see if you can find a doctor who will come to your home. This way, your loved one won't be exposed to "hospital germs" as often.
House calls are becoming more common once again as the health care system grows and changes. Your insurance company may be able to tell you about home care doctors in your area. If your loved one lives in a senior community, ask the community leader if there are any home care nurses or doctors who already make house calls within the community. You may be able to save money on a "call out" fee if you can schedule back-to-back appointments with another community member.
Keep Their Home Clean
As older adults slow down, they don't always do as thorough of a job of keeping their own homes clean. Dishes may get left in the sink for days, and they may not vacuum or do laundry as regularly. Over time, bacteria can build up, increasing your loved one's risk of infection when they so much as touch something!
Helping your loved one keep their home clean will go a long way towards preserving their health. Try visiting once a week and spending a few hours cleaning, or get into the habit of doing their laundry for them. If your loved one does not live close to you, then consider paying for a cleaning company to come in once a week or every other week.
Make it Easier for Them to Eat Healthy
Your loved one may be turning to frozen and pre-packed meals more often because these are easier to prepare. But while these meals are simple and efficient, they don't tend to be very nutritious. As a result, your loved one may not be getting their nutrients they need -- and their immune system may be paying the price!
Improve your loved one's immune system, thereby reducing their risk of infection, by encouraging them to eat more healthfully. Take them grocery shopping once a week and purchase some pre-sliced fruits and veggies for them to keep in the fridge. You may also want to cook them dinner once a week or so, and then package the leftovers into single-portion containers for them to heat up. Also, encourage them to drink tea and eat yogurt more often, as these foods have been shown to improve immunity.
You may also want to buy your loved one some nutrient-packed meal replacement beverages for their fridge. When their appetite is not what it should be, drinking one of these ensures they get the nutrition they need to fight infections.
To learn more about protecting your elderly loved one from infection, speak with services such as Medical House Calls With Compassion.