If you are caring for a senior aged 65 and older, it is important to ensure that your loved one gets a flu shot this season. Why? The CDC reports: "It is estimated that between 71 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older, and between 54 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group."
In other words, seniors are at high risk for flu-related complications. This is largely because, as seniors age, their immune systems weaken over time. This is true even for seemingly healthy seniors, but it is even more important to prevent the flu if your senior is already suffering from other physical ailments.
What to Do This Flu Season
The best way to protect your loved one from the flu is to insist that he or she get a flu shot. Though last year's flu vaccine was not as effective as some had hoped, VolumeOne.org reports: "The 2016-17 vaccine has been updated from last season's vaccine to better match circulating viruses."
It is recommended that seniors receive a high-dose vaccine, which contains 4 times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot. Studies have shown that seniors who receive this high dose shot had 24 percent fewer flu infections as compared to those who received the standard dose flu vaccine.
Other Safety Measures to Protect Your Senior from the Flu
While your senior is getting a flu shot, you might want to check with his or her physician to see if your senior has had a pneumococcal vaccination. This vaccination protects against flu-related complications like pneumonia. It also protects against meningitis and bloodstream infections.
As is always the case, another way to keep your senior healthy is to limit his or her exposure to others who are sick. Additionally, practicing proper hygiene like washing hands often and covering coughs is important. Ensuring that your senior is well-hydrated and is eating nutritiously is also important to help build up his or her immune system during flu season.
Finally, if your senior begins to exhibit any flu-like symptoms, it is wise to seek medical attention quickly. Common flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, your senior may have respiratory symptoms without a fever, so do not assume that your loved one does not have the flu based solely on the absence of a fever.
If you seek medical attention promptly when symptoms occur, your loved one's doctor can prescribe antiviral medications that may lessen flu symptoms and halt the progression of the illness, thereby enabling your senior to avoid some of the more serious complications of the flu.
Getting Assistance from Home Care Workers
Home care workers can help you keep an eye on your senior during flu season. By encouraging healthy habits like adequate hydration, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and proper hygiene, home care workers can help keep your senior healthy this winter. Contact us to discuss which home care services are available to your loved one today.