Influenza Risks for Seniors

Among people at high risk of contracting influenza, none are as vulnerable as seniors age 65 and over.

During any flu season, the number of deaths that occur as a result of flu-related complications involve people over age 65. In fact, 90 percent of flu-related deaths occur in this age group. On top of that, 50 to 60 percent of the hospitalizations due to the flu occur within the same age group. Older persons have weaker immune systems, so the influenza becomes a major threat to health as a person grows older.

To Ward Off the Flu, Get Vaccinated

Contrary to the fears of the anti-vaccination crowd, the best way to prevent the flu is with a flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone older than six months get a flu vaccine as soon as it is available, but senior citizens especially should get the vaccine because they are more likely to experience serious health complications if they contract the flu.

Senior citizens have two vaccines to choose from:

  1. The regular dose flu vaccine
  2. And a higher dose vaccine

The higher dose vaccination is designed for older persons and works to boost their weaker immune systems when they need it most. This vaccine has been reported to be 24.2% more effective in preventing the flu in persons older than 65 and is highly recommended.

Practice Good Health

Another thing you should help the senior citizens you love is to help them practice good health. Good hygiene habits in the household, and that includes everyone, will go a long way to keep your seniors healthy. This includes:

  • Everyone in the house covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze
  • Everyone washing hands before eating and after coughing and blowing one’s nose, using the bathroom, brushing teeth and hair, and picking up items off the floor
  • Avoiding others who are ill, especially if they have the flu

If you know someone who is older than 65 and they begin to develop symptoms of the influenza, get them to your family doctor quickly. Your doctor can treat them with antiviral drugs, if necessary. Acting quickly can go a long way to maintaining their health.

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Posted in Caregiver Support, Diseases and Conditions, Geriatric Care Manager, Health Care Advocate, Home Health Care, Safety, Senior Care / Older Adults