Far from merely sniffles and a cough, the flu can hit seniors hard. With a weakened immune system, those over age 65 are specifically at risk of complications from the flu, which can be rather severe. As we get into flu season, Live Free Home Health Care wants to help you and the seniors you love be prepared for – and protected against – influenza.
Signs and Symptoms
Despite the fact that colds are rampant this time of year as well, there are telling differences between the typical cold and the flu. For example, a cold can lead to:
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Coughing and sore throat
Influenza can likewise produce these symptoms, but oftentimes includes:
- Fever, aches, and chills
- Fatigue and weakness
- Discomfort in the chest
Senior loved ones exhibiting these first signs of the flu should see the physician immediately; an anti-viral medication might help to decrease the severe nature associated with the flu if taken within the first 48 hours immediately after symptoms begin.
70% of hospitalizations and 85% of deaths from the flu occur in individuals ages 65 and older, frequently from the consequence of flu-related complications, including bronchitis and pneumonia. Make sure to obtain immediate medical attention for an older adult displaying these signs and symptoms:
- Green, yellow, or gray mucous when coughing
- Chest pain
- Fatigue and shortness of breath
- Reduction in body temperature
The flu can also result in sinus and ear infections, swelling of the brain, heart, and muscles, and can aggravate pre-existing conditions such as asthma.
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and fortunately, an effective strategy for preventing the flu is available and highly recommended for older adults: a high-dose version of the flu vaccine. September is the optimal time for you to make sure the seniors in your life get their flu vaccines, to ensure the maximum amount of protection when flu season gets going (October through May).
Additional precautionary measures also include:
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including daily exercise, wise food choices, and reduced stress
- Wash hands on a regular basis and keep hands away from the face
- Avoid crowds of people and high-traffic areas during flu season
- Keep the home environment clean and sanitized
Live Free Home Health Care, the Belmont memory care families trust, helps keep seniors safe and healthy in many ways as well! Our professional care team is readily available to provide transportation for your senior loved one to get his or her flu shot, attend doctor appointments, prepare healthy meals, help with housecleaning, and much more.