elderly man coughing while being nursed by his wife at home

We are aware that our bodies become weaker as we age, and we are more susceptible to injury or illness. One common health issue is the risk of respiratory infection. Respiratory infections are caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi that cause inflammation in the respiratory tract (nose, throat, sinus).

Respiratory infections can be mild and short-lived, but they can also be severe and life-threatening. Preventative measures to lower respiratory infection risk can help seniors stay healthy and safe and avoid hospitalization. Here are a few steps you can take to reduce the risks.


Practice Good Hygiene

Good hygiene is a preventative measure for respiratory infections. It can also help avoid other health issues such as colds and flu. Practicing it can significantly improve your health, and it is easy to do. 

  • Proper hand washing is essential for good hygiene. Make it a habit to wash hands carefully with soap and water for at least several seconds before eating. 
  • If you have been exposed to someone who has respiratory infections, use an alcohol-based sanitizer in addition to washing hands with soap and water. 
  • Refrain yourself from touching your eyes, nose, or mouth to avoid transferring germs from your hands to these areas.
  • Avoid sharing glasses, plates, and eating utensils with other people.


Getting Vaccinated

Getting vaccinated is an ideal way to prevent serious illnesses from coming on in the first place. Getting a flu shot every year is crucial because it changes based on the strains that most likely cause illness during that season. Flu shots are not live vaccines. It’s made from an inactivated virus, which means it can’t cause the flu.

The flu shots are given as an injection but can also be administered as a nasal spray. There are many different flu vaccines on the market, and they’re all effective in preventing the flu.


Healthy Living

Good health promotes a robust immune system, which helps protect a person against respiratory illness and infection. There are ways to improve your health and reduce your risk of respiratory infection.

  • Eat a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Avoid fatty foods as they decrease your body’s immune response to illness and infection.
  • Stay active and exercise regularly. Exercise helps strengthen the heart, lungs, and muscles, which keeps the body strong, promoting good health. 
  • Get adequate sleep each night. Schedule regular times to rest and sleep, and limit your use of electronics such as TV and smartphones before bed.


Improve Air Quality

In addition to maintaining good hygiene, there are other things you can do to improve the air quality in your home. Good air quality keeps germs and bacteria from spreading throughout the house, decreasing the risk of respiratory infections.

Keep the windows closed and doors shut during the winter to prevent drafts from entering the house. This can help limit the spread of cold air containing viruses, which decreases your risk of getting sick.

Do not smoke inside the house, as exposure to second-hand smoke is dangerous for everyone.

Do not hang laundry outside to dry. This can lead to mold and mildew exposure, which increases the risk of respiratory infections.


These are just a few steps you can take to lower your risk of infection and improve your health this year. If you’d like more information, contact your doctor or local medical center, they can help you stay healthy and protected.

Andrea Gibbs serves as a blog contributor at Serenity Senior Care.


Andrea Gibbs

Andrea Gibbs serves as a blog contributor at Serenity Senior Care. She’s an avid personal development enthusiast and an expert in the field of health and fitness. When she’s not writing she can be found running hills or hiking trails, rooting for her favorite team (the Pittsburgh Steelers), or watching a good Netflix series.


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