With flu season in full swing, we need to be mindful of how we can prevent getting the flu and keeping ourselves as healthy as possible. As we age, our immune system defenses begin to weaken making us more prone to getting a sickness like the flu. The flu is one of those illnesses that can become very serious fairly quickly especially for the elderly. According to the CDC, “it’s estimated that between 71% and 85% of seasonal flu related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older and between 54% and 70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group.” This statistic shows just how serious the flu can become. Below we’ll talk a little more on some prevention and what to look out for with the flu.
We can all agree that not everyone gets the flu shot. However, the best practice for prevention is to get the vaccination. Typically, people should be getting their flu shots at the end of October in preparation for the season ahead. Those over the age of 65 should not even question if they need the flu shot because they are most at risk for a flu related complication. Specifically, they should be getting the “high dose vaccine” which is catered for older adults because it contains four times more antigen than a regular flu shot. An alternative to that type of shot would be the Flaud shot which is designed to create a stronger response to the vaccination from the immune system.
Routine Health Habits
The flu can be spread by touch, it is imperative to wash your hands thoroughly and often. Keep away from others when not feeling well – or when they are not feeling well. Avoid touching one’s face and eyes. It is important to remember that infected people can spread the flu virus without even knowing they have the flu yet. Avoiding very crowded places can also help to keep from accidentally coming in contact with someone who is infected.
Signs and Symptoms
If you begin feeling any of the below signs or symptoms it is important to get to the doctor promptly. The flu virus can lead to serious complications because it is more complex than the common cold as it attacks the respiratory system. In addition, look out for these symptoms:
- Cough sometimes with thick mucus that is white, yellow, or green
- Sore throat
- Body aches or pain
- Runny nose
Although these are the beginning signs, addition symptoms can occur if the virus is not treated which can lead to complications like a bacterial pneumonia. These signs and symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Worsened symptoms after 3 to 4 days
- High fever
- Chest pain
Always be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of the flu especially with elderly loved ones. The flu virus can lead to all different types of complications and worsened illnesses. It is important to get the flu shot if you have no already and try to stay as healthy as possible.
“Cold and Flu in the Elderly: Signs and Symptoms.” Cold and Flu in the Elderly: Signs and Symptoms, www.seniorcaring.com/resources/cold-and-flu-in-the-elderly-signs-and-symptoms.
“Influenza (Flu).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 Nov. 2017, www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/65over.htm.
“Preventing the Flu in the Elderly.” ASC, American Senior Communities , www.ascseniorcare.com/family/senior-flu-prevention-tips/.