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Tips to Protect Seniors from the Flu and COVID-19

With the flu season upon us and the COVID-19 pandemic continuing throughout the country, it’s more important than ever to know how to keep seniors safe from harmful viruses.

If your senior loved one contracts a respiratory virus, you’ll need to determine as soon as possible if it’s related to the flu or COVID-19 so that he or she receives the proper care.

Being prepared and keeping up with the latest information and guidelines can be your best defense this flu season.

How are COVID-19 and the Flu Similar?

COVID-19 and the flu are viral respiratory infections that are transmitted similarly, either through airborne droplets containing the virus or by touching contaminated surfaces. Both present related symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

Distinctions Between COVID-19 and the Flu

Although the flu and COVID-19 are respiratory infections, the same viruses do not cause them. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says there are some key differences between the flu and COVID-19 and recommends the following tips to help you tell the difference between the flu and COVID-19:

    1. Look at the symptoms
    Some symptoms are more prevalent in cases of COVID-19, such as:
    • Sore throat
    • Shaking/chills
    • Breathing difficulties or shortness of breath
    • Runny or stuffy nose.

    A dry cough is often more severe with COVID-19 than the flu. A sudden loss of taste or smell is a unique symptom of COVID-19 not found in cases of the flu.

    Muscle or body aches can appear in both illnesses, but aches are frequently more severe in the flu.

    2. Look at the onset of symptoms
    COVID-19 and the flu differ in how quickly symptoms begin.

    Flu symptoms usually appear very suddenly, while COVID-19 symptoms generally develop over the course of a few days. COVID-19 symptoms are more likely to come and go, or suddenly worsen.

    3. Get tested
    The only way to know for sure if your senior loved one has the flu, COVID-19, or another ailment is through a test conducted by a medical professional.

    If he or she develops any of these symptoms, call a doctor and request a COVID-19 and an influenza flu test – especially if your loved one is over the age of 65 or has underlying medical conditions such as lung injury, diabetes, or heart disease.

    Seek medical attention immediately if your senior is exhibiting serious symptoms, including:

    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Persistent chest pain or pressure
    • Difficulty waking
    • Blue coloration of the lips or face

    These symptoms can quickly become life-threatening.

Take Steps to Protect Your Senior Loved Ones

Everyone needs to follow public health guidelines to stay safe from COVID-19 and the flu. These guidelines are especially critical for people over the age of 65 because of their risk of developing serious or even life-threatening complications.

While this flu season is more complicated than ever, you can help keep your loved ones safe by practicing social distancing, washing your hands frequently with soap and water, and wearing a mask.

For extra protection against the flu, call your senior’s physician and ask if a flu shot is recommended or needed. Also, make sure all other vaccines — especially the pneumococcal vaccine — are up to date.

If you need additional assistance, Visiting Angels’ dedicated caregivers are available to monitor and safeguard your loved one’s health and wellness at home during the flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic. They will also alert you immediately if he or she develops any signs or symptoms of illness.

Our Visiting Angels care coordinators are available to discuss your loved one’s needs during a free home care consultation.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.