Adults over the age 65 often suffer the effects of the flu worse than most other demographics. As the body gets older, the immune system weakens and puts an individual at a greater risk of developing more serious and life-threatening symptoms and complications. In fact, according to reports from the CDC, approximately 60% of those hospitalized annually for the flu and related illnesses are 65 and older. Further, as many as 90% of the deaths occur in those of retirement age. Clearly the flu is a serious concern for those in adult living and assisted living residences.
Given the very real risks, seniors should be aware of these basic flu prevention tips to keep themselves healthy and safe.
Flu Prevention Tips
Influenza is a viral infection which spreads via airborne particles, saliva or skin-to-skin contact. Therefore, the influenza virus can easily spread through many routine, day to day activitie – such as sharing a drink, kissing a loved one, opening a door, or grasping a handrail. An individual can catch the flu by simply walking by an area where someone with the flu recently sneezed – especially if their immune system is compromised in any way.
The flu assaults the lungs, throat and nose. Some of the most common flu symptoms include fever, body aches, sweating and chills; runny nose, sore throat and congestion; shortness of breath and coughing; and fatigue, headache, dizziness and nausea. Depending on the patient, symptoms can be quite mild or very severe.
The best and easiest protection against the flu is a vaccination, commonly known as the “flu shot”. It is recommended that everyone over six months of age is vaccinated by the end of October for best protection against the virus. Because of the increased risk for seniors for serious complications, it is important for those 65+to receive a flu vaccination. The vaccine minimizes illnesses associated with the flu.
Adults over the age of 65 should also be up-to-date with their pneumococcal vaccination. Pneumonia, bloodstream infections and meningitis are all covered by this particular vaccination, and as pneumococcal pneumonia is one of the serious flu-related complications that can be fatal, may be critical.
Other Preventative Tips
In addition to receiving your an annual flu shot, seniors should work to keep their immune system strong year-round. This is best achieved with regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, giving up any smoking habits and managing anxiety and stress. Here are some additional flu prevention tips:
- Avoid crowds and do not schedule any unnecessary travel which puts you in close proximity of possibly ill people
- Wash hands often using warm water and anti-bacterial soap
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth unless hands have just been cleaned. Germs introduce themselves into the system via these areas
- Sneeze or cough into the crook of your arm if you do not have a tissue. Do not use your hands to cover your mouth.
- Avoid people who are sick, and carry antibacterial gel in case you come in contact/li>
- Use sanitizing wipes to clean mobile devices, and surfaces such as doorknobs and TV remotes
If your loved one lives in an assisted living or memory care residence, talk with their caregivers about the precautions being taken to keep them safe and healthy. If it is determined that a flu shot is the best course of action, speak with their doctor to double check that there are no health concerns or problems with other medications.
The professionals at A Banyan Residence are committed to providing the very best in care to seniors in the Venice area. IF you are looking for the right option for a senior care residence for you or a loved one, come for a tour today.