Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are hospitalized due to the flu. This time of year can be especially worrisome for senior caregivers, since the elderly are among the most vulnerable during cold and flu season.
If you’re concerned about a loved one’s health during cold and flu season, there are steps you can take to reduce their risk of contracting influenza. Visiting Angels has put together the following guide to the steps family members and senior caregivers can take to prevent the flu in the elderly.
High Dose Flu Shots for Seniors
As we get older, we produce fewer and fewer antibodies to combat viruses like influenza. This not only means that seniors are more vulnerable to the flu — it also means that the regular flu shot isn’t as effective for seniors as it is for other adults.
Because of this, the CDC recommends that seniors get one of two different types of flu shots, both of which are designed specifically for people over 65. The two options the CDC recommends are Fluzone, a high dose vaccine, and Fluad, an adjuvanted vaccine. While both of these vaccines have a higher rate of mild side effects than the normal vaccines, both have been proven in studies to do a better job of inoculating seniors against influenza.
Flu Shots for Senior Caregivers & Family
If you’re a senior caregiver for an elderly individual, it’s important that you get the flu shot for yourself. Even if the care recipient has received a flu shot, vaccinations are not always 100% successful. That means caregivers should make sure they also receive the flu shot to reduce the risk of bringing the flu virus into a care recipient’s home.
This also applies to friends and family of elderly persons. If you provide care for an elderly family member, you should encourage other family members to get their flu shot as soon as possible this cold and flu season.
Practice Healthy Habits at Home
Seniors, caregivers, and family members should all practice healthy habits to limit the risk of picking up the flu virus or spreading it from one person to the other. That means washing hands frequently and thoroughly, using warm soapy water and scrubbing for at least 15 seconds. You should also avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth with your hands, especially if you have not washed them recently.
Other smart strategies include carrying hand sanitizer with you, regularly disinfecting often-touched surfaces, like doorknobs, and covering your nose and mouth with your arm if you need to sneeze or cough.
Visiting Angels senior caregivers help seniors practice healthy habits during cold and flu season. To book a no-cost care consultation from your local Visiting Angels office, call us today. For additional information, please view our Flu Prevention Brochure.