Understand the best practices to help your loved one reduce their chances of getting the flu.
The Center for Disease Control touted 2019-2020 as being the worst flu season in 40 years, with more than 6.4 million cases of the disease and more than 2,900 deaths so far. And while no one of any age wants to contract this damaging virus, the flu is much riskier and more dangerous for seniors.
Elderly patients’ immune systems aren’t as strong as younger adults’, which can lead to more trouble fighting the symptoms. Many seniors who get the flu may end up hospitalized and are more likely to die from flu complications. In fact, 90% of adults who died from the flu during the 2017-2018 season were over the age of 65.
The good news is that there are several things you can do to reduce your loved one’s chances of getting the flu. Here are some of the most effective approaches to flu prevention:
Get the Flu Shot
There’s some debate regarding the effectiveness of the flu shot, given that the flu virus changes slightly from year to year. And while the flu vaccine isn’t a 100% guarantee that you won’t get the flu, it does significantly reduce your chances.
For individuals 65 years or older, there are two options for the flu shot. One is a high-dose vaccine that contains four times the antigens of a regular vaccine. The other is referred to as Fluad, which helps the body develop a stronger immune system response to the vaccination.
The flu shot also comes with disadvantages, particularly side effects. Your loved one may experience a low-grade fever, aches and pains, and temporary swelling at the injection site. These symptoms usually only last a few days, though. Also, there’s the rare chance that your loved one may experience an allergic reaction and an even rarer possibility that the vaccine may be associated with Guillain-Barre disease—a condition where the body’s immune system attacks the nerves.
Many people may agree that the risks don’t outweigh the benefits of getting a flu shot, but it’s important to consider both sides to make the best decision for your loved one’s health.
Reducing the exposure to crowds can help to keep your loved one healthy. If your loved one has to go out in public during flu season, such as the doctor’s office or the grocery store, encourage frequent hand washing and avoid touching common items like doorknobs, pens, and tabletops.
Elder Care at Home
Receiving elder care at home can help your loved one avoid going out in public during flu season. Home care aides can help with things like grocery shopping and running errands to reduce exposure to germs.
In addition, if flu symptoms do appear, a home care aide can help your loved one to receive immediate attention.
Flu season is serious, and the better prepared your loved one is to prevent it, the better chance they have of limiting their risk.
For more insights, head back to the Tailored Home Care blog.