ask an expert
Health-care pros tell us their patients’ most-asked questions. This issue, our experts talk about immune health and supporting a friend with mental illness.
What should I do to stay healthy this winter? Dr. Patel says
“Getting the flu shot and choosing a healthy lifestyle are your first lines of defence against cold and flu. Strengthen your immune system with the following strategies. • Get the flu shot as early as you can. Influenza can affect everyone, but children under five and adults 65 years and older, especially, are more at risk from developing complications, such as pneumonia. • Wash your hands A 75% often larger with warm soapy water; back* clean provides and disinfect surfaces up and to shared 10 hours items. • Manage stress of and protection, aim for a good night’s sleep so you of seven can to nine hours. Stress sleep and through poorquality sleep can the weaken night. your immune system, leaving you more prone to infections. vs. Always Ultra Thin Regular with wings © Procter • Stay & hydrated Gamble, 2018 and limit or avoid diuretics, such as coffee and alcohol. • Get outside to reduce your time spent in recirculated air. • If you do get sick, don’t tough it out: Stay at home, rather than risk infecting others.”
How can I help a friend who’s been struggling with mental illness? Dr. Hershler says
“Pay attention to changes in your loved one’s mood and typical behaviours. Before you approach someone who you think may be mentally ill, consult other close friends or family members for perspective—do your takes match? If so, check in with your friend to see how she’s doing and mention you’ve noticed changes; ask if she needs help or wants to talk. Then, follow up regularly, since she may not have the motivation, energy or self-esteem to reach out. Talk to your friend about a care plan, whereby you and other friends and relatives can be part of a network of support with responsibilities such as finding the right assistance and treatment; attending appointments; keeping track of symptoms; promoting a healthy lifestyle; and encouraging social activity. Importantly, know what’s available in terms of help lines and emergency care. The Canadian Mental Health Association [cmha.ca] has great information on family and caregiver support.”