It’s all over the news and impacting a staggering number of Americans. This year’s flu strain is especially virulent, putting everyone at risk but particularly those age 65 and older. Although there is a lot of focus on the pediatric risk from influenza this year, the risk to seniors is even greater as our immune defenses weaken with age. It is estimated that between 71 and 85 percent of flu-related deaths occur in those 65 and older.
At Nightingale Homecare, our Paradise Valley home health care team wants to ensure that your senior loved ones are as well protected as possible from this year’s flu epidemic. The following information can help.
Get vaccinated ASAP!
Even though it is recommended to receive the flu vaccine by the end of October, it is not too late to get it now. The CDC recommends that those 65 and older receive the “high dose” vaccine, which contains four times the antigen as the regular flu shot and can reduce influenza infection by 24% as compared to the regular shot.
Know your flu facts.
Remember: the flu shot cannot give you the flu. Many people have this misconception, so it is important to note that although you may develop mild side effects for a day or two following the injection, you cannot get the flu from the vaccine. These side effects include redness, swelling and pain at the injection site, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.
Limit exposure & act fast if symptoms arise.
Aside from getting the flu vaccine, there are many things you can do to limit your exposure. Practice good health habits by staying away from those who are sick, wash your hands often and cover your cough. If a senior loved one does develop flu symptoms, it will be important to see his or her physician or make a visit to the hospital if the symptoms are severe. Those over age 65 are at high risk for developing complications. Your loved one’s physician will most likely begin the senior on antiviral medication, which is very beneficial for reducing risk of complication, especially when the medication is started within the first two days of illness.
Additionally, check with your loved one’s physician to ensure he or she is up to date with the pneumococcal vaccine. This will protect against not only pneumonia, but also meningitis and infections of the blood. Developing pneumonia while a senior is sick with the flu is a serious complication and can place him or her at risk for serious illness or even death.
Know the symptoms of the flu so you can monitor for possible infection.
The symptoms of the flu may include some or all of the following:
- Sore throat
- Body/muscle aches
- Runny or stuffy nose