Flu Prevention for the Elderly
The flu is serious business. It is can be dangerous for anyone to get the flu, but for the elderly it is especially concerning. Each year adults age 65 and older account for sixty percent (60%) of flu-related hospitalizations. The flu season runs from October through February, but can continue as late as March or April. How do you keep yourself healthy and avoid the flu?
One of the most important things to remember with the flu is that we are often contagious before we know we are sick and even after we feel better. You can be contagious for up to one day before you develop symptoms. You can remain contagious for up to five days after becoming sick. This is why the flu is so highly contagious and easily spread.
You can take several actions to prevent the flu this year. Start by getting your flu shot. Flu shots are available from your doctor’s office, drug stores, urgent care centers, and hospitals. It is a safe and effective way to prevent illness this flu season. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends flu shots for everyone 65 years of age and older.
In addition to your flu shot, you should practice good health habits. Be sure to always cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. Use a tissue or the crook of your elbow. Throw away used tissues in the waste basket. Wash hands often and with soap. Avoid people who are sick. Don’t touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
“Seniors need to be especially concerned with contracting the flu,” remarks Larry Meigs, President and CEO of Visiting Angels. “Getting your flu shot and visiting your doctor if you become ill is simply essential.”
What are common flu symptoms you should be aware of? Fever, chills, headache, cough, runny nose, sore throat, fatigue and muscle aches, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you do get sick, visit your doctor. There are anti-viral drugs that can help treat the flu. Your doctor can monitor your health and watch for signs of dehydration and other concerns common with the flu.
If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor immediately.
- Difficulty breathing
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe vomiting
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Flu symptoms that improve and then return with fever or worse cough
The flu can be quite serious in elderly adults, but with a few precautions and some common sense you can remain healthy this flu season.