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Tips for caregivers: Taking care of someone with the flu

You may have been lucky to avoid catching the flu this season, but the flu can still have an impact on your life. You may find yourself looking after someone who has the flu. There's no need to panic – follow these steps on what to do for the flu patient and what to do for yourself as a caregiver.

When taking care of the flu patient

  • Make a sick room, if possible. Keeping the person with flu in a separate room can help keep the flu from spreading to others in the family.
  • Keep the sick person's personal items (their own drinking glass, towel, face cloth, toothbrush, etc.) separate from everyone else's. Each sick person should have their own personal items.
  • Avoid being face-to-face with the person with the flu. Try to spend the least amount of time possible in close contact with the person. If you are carrying a child with the flu, hold them so their chin rests on your shoulder. That way, their cough will not be in your face.
  • Wash your hands often using proper hand washing technique. Wash your hands after touching the sick person, after handling their tissues, laundry or other personal items, before you eat, and before and after touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
  • Clean and disinfect hard surfaces (e.g., door knobs, light switches, bedside tables, counters, phones).
  • Know what complications to look for. Most people with the flu will feel better in a few days. However, be aware of flu complications that can occur such as pneumonia. This is especially important when caring for someone who has a medical condition that puts them at risk for complications. To monitor for this, take their temperature every day. You can also watch out for signs such as:
    • Trouble breathing
    • Strange sounds when breathing
    • Particularly sore throat
    • Fever for more than 72 hours
    • Flu symptoms lasting for more than 10 days

Take care of yourself

  • If you have a medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, a weakened immune system, or other conditions that put you at risk for flu complications, you should not look after people who are sick, if possible. If you end up needing to provide care, you should contact your doctor to tell them about your situation and review strategies to prevent catching the flu.  
  • Watch for signs of stress in yourself. Taking care of a sick person can be stressful, so learn ways to help reduce stress. If at any time you feel overwhelmed, don't hesitate to ask for help or speak to a health care provider.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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