Although she is recently widowed and on kidney dialysis, Frankie Marlowe, 76, wanted to maintain her independence and her health at home. She chose to hire a caregiver through a company called Visiting Angels, rather than move into assisted living.
"I wasn't ready for that yet," she said. "I wasn't old enough."
Aware that this winter has been an especially bad one for the flu, Marlowe also consulted Dr. Allen Mask to make sure she was protected against that particular ailment.
First, he asked if she had a flu shot.
"Oh yes, I get my flu shot ever year, religiously," Marlowe said.
Visiting Angels also provided Marlowe with a "flu prevention kit," a service they offer to all clients.
"At Visiting Angels, we absolutely believe that an ounce of prevention is worth far more than a pound of cure," said Amy Martin.
Martin guided Marlowe in proper hand-washing technique. "And remember, too, when you're washing your hands, wash for at least 20 seconds. And to dry your hands, there's a roll of paper towels," she said.
Paper towels are better than washcloths or towels which get re-used many times between washings, she pointed out.
The kit also includes hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray for surfaces and immunity-boosting groceries like orange juice, soup and crackers.
There's also a mask to wear in public places where people may be coughing.
"I try not to get out in large crowds," Marlowe said, "Because that's the one thing you don't need to do."
Mask said illnesses such as the flu, a cold or even norovirus can be spread from touching infected surfaces. Something as simple as sharing a pen can spread infection.
"Often we'll use the pen that a waiter gives us to sign a receipt," Mask said. "You should always use a pen that you and only you should touch."
There's also a digital thermometer in the kit along with a list of symptoms that help you tell the difference between a cold and the flu. The symptoms can mimic each other, but the flu will include a temperature of 102 degrees or higher, so an easy-to-read thermometer will help determine the difference.