Because of weakened immune systems, those older than age 65 are at higher risk for the flu and flu complications. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of flu-related deaths in the United States occur in adults older than age 65. Knowing these startling statistics, we encourage families to take the time to educate aging parents and loved ones on how they can best protect themselves during this year’s flu season.
As a leading provider of Sonoma County in-home care, we believe the single most important step for seniors to take during flu season is to get vaccinated. This year, there is a special version of the flu shot that has a higher dose of the vaccine and is designed for those older than age 65. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, this new vaccine is not only safe, but is up to 25 percent more effective in preventing the flu amongst the aging population.
You should also help your loved one practice good hygiene habits, such as the proper way to wash hands frequently. If your loved one is still working, encourage him or her to stay home from work if flu symptoms are present. If not, your loved one should stay home from regular activities like church, volunteering, socializing, and shopping when not feeling well.
If your loved one develops the flu even after being vaccinated, it is important that he or she gets medical attention right away. When seniors get the flu, receiving a dose of antiviral medication as soon as possible can help decrease the risk for serious complications such as pneumonia. Be alert for symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
The flu shot usually becomes available in October. For optimum protection against the flu, make sure your loved one gets the shot from his or her doctor as soon as possible, even if they were vaccinated last year. If you are unable to accompany your loved one to get his or her flu shot, consider help from a professional hourly caregiver in Sonoma County. Caregivers can provide reliable transportation and accompaniment to doctor’s appointments and can also monitor your loved one’s health if you are unable to provide check-ins on a regular basis.
Education and preparedness are the keys to senior health and wellness during the dangerous flu season. For more information about caring for an aging parent or loved one, reach out to a Care Manager at Home Care Assistance Sonoma County and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation. We are available to answer any questions and can help you select the care plan best for your aging loved one’s needs. Call 707-834-4368 – we look forward to hearing from you!