From October through March every year, it’s estimated that between 10% to 20% of the U.S. population catches the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths resulting from the flu, per year, with many of those fatalities occurring in seniors age 65 and older.
If you’re a family caregiver for a senior, these flu statistics are certainly of concern to you. Fortunately, there are precautionary measures you can take to prevent the flu bug.
5 Tips on Flu Prevention for Seniors
1. Have your loved one get a flu shot.
The first line of defense every fall should be getting a flu shot, which the CDC says is effective for the roughly 70% to 90% of the population that’s vaccinated. Because of its effectiveness, the CDC recommends that anyone over the age of 50 get an annual flu vaccination, along with children between the ages of 2 and 5.
2. Ensure friends and family are also protected.
Friends and family members should also get a flu shot every fall to protect themselves and their senior loved ones. It not only protects the older adults in their lives, but it’s especially important for protecting young children, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions.
3. Keep them up to date on all vaccinations.
Seniors should receive all vaccinations for people over 65, specifically, a pneumococcal vaccination to protect against pneumonia, meningitis, and other infections of the bloodstream. These diseases can develop as serious complications from the flu and can seriously affect seniors, even cause death.
4. Talk to their doctor.
If your loved one is experiencing any flu-like symptoms, get them to their doctor immediately. They can check for complications and determine whether a senior should be taking antiviral drugs. Symptoms to watch for are:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Body aches
Some seniors may also experience vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pains.
5. Remind them to keep up healthy habits.
In addition to getting their flu shot, there are several other ways to prepare a senior’s body so it will be more resistant to the flu, including:
- Exercising regularly
- Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily
- Eating a nutritious diet
- Staying hydrated with plenty of water and other fluids
- Frequent hand-washing with soap and water
If you’re a caregiver for a senior and suspect you’re coming down with the flu, be sure to cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and immediately wash your hands afterward.
Respite Care From AmeriCare Plus
Avoiding person-to-person spread is an important step of flu prevention for seniors and everyone else. If you suspect you might be getting the flu or do come down with it, a respite caregiver can visit your home and care for your loved one for a few hours a day, anywhere from one day a week to several days a week while you recover.
AmeriCare Plus caregivers are carefully screened and thoroughly trained to provide the best care throughout Virginia. Give us a call today for more information. We look forward to putting our 25+ years of experience to work for you.