As 2020 reaches its end, it’s apparent that the majority of the year has existed in the shadow of COVID-19. Kids have had to adapt to one, two, or sometimes even several different methods of learning, while parents have had to make a series of adjustments along the way to accommodate distance learning, provide enriching activities during isolation or quarantine—and in many cases, maintain a successful career in the process. Even more importantly, parents and children alike adapted to a constantly changing series of health guidelines designed to keep families healthy as possible during the pandemic.
Additional Concerns This Winter
With what is traditionally the cold and flu season at our doorstep, however, the task of keeping families healthy has taken on a new dimension, even at the end of what may be a unique year in history. Now, you must not only ensure your family prioritizes health during what is typically America’s unhealthiest time of year, but you must also consider the potential impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Health officials agree, pointing to the potential for a “twin-demic”—or a perfect storm of two highly infectious diseases—as a major cause for concern.
The statistics seem to support this concern, to some extent—kids get the flu at a higher rate than any other age group, between 20 and 30 percent depending on the year. Others in close contact with them, like pregnant women and infants under six months of age, are especially susceptible to the flu because they cannot take the yearly flu vaccine. What can you do to ensure your family stays as healthy as possible during this, especially concerning flu season?
Your Family Health Checklist
First of all—don’t panic. According to the experts, COVID protocols and traditional flu prevention methods overlap considerably, and most of the things you’re already doing will remain effective even if this year’s flu season is remarkably widespread. Consult our checklist to ensure you’re successfully addressing your family’s health no matter what’s ahead:
- Develop proper handwashing techniques. We—and you—can’t stress this enough; thorough hand washing is one of the most important things your kids can do to stay healthy. Encourage kids to wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds—or for about the amount of time it takes to sing the ABCs.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. A cold and flu season staple, covering your coughs and sneezes just got even more important with the onset of COVID-19. Encourage kids to cough into the crook of an elbow to limit the spread of germs when masks aren’t feasible—and regularly disinfect hard surfaces that may come into contact with anything that escapes.
- Eat a balanced diet. One important component of overall health is to eat a balanced diet. This includes eating three balanced meals per day with adequate servings of fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein for parents and kids alike. In addition, be sure to stay hydrated, as water consumption helps to maintain proper brain and body system function.
- Get plenty of sleep. Whether you’re commuting to work and school or are currently getting an extra hour of sleep thanks to telecommuting and distance learning, maintaining a proper sleep schedule is key. Develop a consistent bedtime routine, and get enough sleep so that you and your family feel alert and productive during the day instead of groggy and scattered.
- Ensure you have health insurance coverage. Unfortunately, the pandemic has created a rise in the number of hospitalizations across most age groups during trying financial times for many. Get health insurance quotes and ensure your health insurance plan is affordable, tailored for your family’s needs, and at your service should influenza or COVID-19 cause unexpected medical complications.
Stay Healthy This Year
If you or your loved ones begin experiencing symptoms of either illness, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. However, the above steps—along with following CDC guidelines while you’re outside the home—should help you and your family stay safe this mid-COVID cold and flu season. With a whole-family focus on maintaining health and wellness and experienced physicians by your side, 2021 should be shaping up to be a much better year, indeed.