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Seniors At High Risk from Widespread Flu Outbreak

January 18, 2013
This vicious flu epidemic has threatened seniors and now their families are fighting back with “Fight the Flu Kits” and caregivers to protect their elderly loved ones. Weaker immune systems make seniors more vulnerable to the flu and that’s why 90% of all flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 or older.


That’s why Visiting Angels, is helping families in two ways:
  1. Assembling "Visiting Angels Fight The Flu Kit" - so seniors protect themselves from the flu.
  2. Offering In-home Senior Flu Service - Caregivers help sanitize seniors’ homes and run errands for seniors (ie. grocery store) so they’re not exposed to the flu, take seniors to get their flu shot and care for seniors and take them to the doctor if they have the flu.  

 “This flu can be deadly for seniors because they can develop pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses, so families have to be especially vigilant with their elderly loved ones,” says Larry Meigs, President and CEO of Visiting Angels, one of our nation’s largest in-home care companies with a center in our area. “Our flu kits help seniors protect themselves from the flu. Our caregivers run errands so seniors don’t go out and get exposed to the virus especially in high exposure areas such as the grocery store or the mall. Plus, we help sanitize the seniors’ homes to keep them as germ-free as possible. Our kits and caregivers are especially helpful for people who don’t live near their elderly loved ones and want someone to protect their seniors and watch over them if they get sick and need help recovering.”


Visiting Angels “Fight The Flu Kits” include: (items available at most retail stores) 
  • Paper towels – encourage seniors to use paper towels in the bathroom instead of hand towels, which can harbor germs.
  • The Medisim TempleTouch™ thermometer – if seniors have a fever higher than 102 degrees, that could indicate they have the flu.
  • Vitamin C or little boxes of orange juice – helps build seniors’ weaker immune systems
  • Pocket-size hand sanitizer, with aloe – helps keep seniors’ skin germ-free without drying out their sensitive skin. Hand sanitizer doesn't replace good old fashioned hand washing, it is an extra precaution.
  • Pens – seniors should always have their own pen handy – pens shared in public areas carry a ton of germs.
  • Lysol spray – reminder for seniors to spray doorknobs, handles, and light switches, etc... at least once a week – viruses can live up to 48 hours on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.
  • Hand soap - recent studies show plain soap and water works just as well, if not better, than antibacterial soaps.C
  • Cold Vs. Flu Tip Sheet Here – This explains the difference between the cold and flu.
  • Hand sanitizer wipes – these are handy to have on-the-go, whether to clean hands or public surfaces. Don’t rely on just baby wipes because they do not contain the proper ingredients to kill viruses and germs.

 “Often seniors don’t think of themselves as elderly, ignore health warnings and resent loved ones ‘telling them what to do’,” adds Meigs. “Our caregivers can help nudge a senior to get protection from the flu and to get the help they need if they get the virus.” 


“Visiting Angels Fight The Flu” Tips for Seniors
  • Get the flu shot because it’s free and covered by Medicare. People 65 and older have two flu shots available to choose from – a regular dose vaccine and a newer higher dose flu vaccine that results in a stronger immune response. Seniors should talk to their doctors to see if they’re a good fit for this vaccine.
  • Shorten the duration of symptoms by getting an anti viral medication within 48 hours. 

Did You Know? (Places seniors should avoid because they carry the most germs)
  • Public restrooms – especially the sink b/c bacteria can survive there the longest – Source: University of Arizona study
  • The mall – especially food court tables – the rags used to “clean” can spread harmful bacteria – they can contain E. coli b/c they are not cleaned or changed regularly – Source: Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University
  • Grocery stores – this is where many people go when they are sick, whether to get some OJ, chicken noodle soup, or medicine – also grocery cart handles - About 70%-80% of the shopping carts tested nationwide had E. coli, says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a University of Arizona
  • Restaurants – one of the dirtiest areas is the table top due to the “clean” rag used to wipe them down (source: Lifescript)
  • Libraries – some of the dirtiest areas are the books, computers and table tops, just from the many people who touch them each day (source: Lifescript)


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