A senior learning about preventing the flu.

How to Prevent the Flu in Seniors in Assisted Living Homes

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As we transition into the winter season, the change in climate and dropping temperature also brings along the risks of cold and flu in seniors. While younger people can manage the flu and recover in a couple of days, the influenza virus infection can be very serious in older adults.

Seniors generally have a weak immune system, which can make them prone to developing other complications like pneumonia when they have the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even says that around 80% of seasonal flu-related deaths in the country every year are reported among seniors who are over the age of 65. This is why caregivers at assisted living homes take proactive measures to prevent cold and flu in their residents.

How to Prevent the Flu in Older Adults

Since the influenza virus can be life-threatening for your senior loved ones, it is important to be prepared and take the right steps to help them stay healthy and protected when the weather changes. The best way to do that is to take your elderly parent or grandparent to get a flu shot. A yearly flu vaccine can help to keep them protected against influenza, which is why caregivers at assisted living homes insist on following the vaccination routine.

The flu vaccine is adjusted every year to protect seniors against the current flu strains, and experts recommend older adults as well as their caregivers to get the flu shot every year. The CDC says that flu vaccination can reduce the risks of cold and flu by around 40% to 60%. It is also found to be effective in seniors who have a compromised immune system.

Residents in assisted living communities are advised to get the flu vaccine by late September or early October to ensure optimal protection against outbreaks of the influenza virus. You can also choose from the regular flu shot and high-dose vaccine for your senior loved one depending upon their health and other conditions. Both types of vaccines are effective in preventing the flu in older adults, so you can consult with the primary healthcare provider of your elderly loved one to learn which one would be the right choice for them.

Aside from getting the vaccine, it is also important to practice good hygiene to prevent the flu. Seniors in assisted living homes are recommended to follow everyday preventative measures like covering their mouth when sneezing, washing their hands frequently, and avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth often. Caregivers at assisted living communities also take the utmost care to ensure that all the surfaces in the common areas are clean and sanitized well so that there are fewer chances of spreading the virus.

In any case, it is vital to see a doctor when seniors experience any signs of the flu. Many assisted living homes have a visiting physician to check on the health of their residents while others can arrange for a doctor’s visit as necessary. Making sure that the influenza infection is attended to in the early stages can help to stop the illness from becoming more serious in older adults. There are many medications, which can effectively deal with the flu when administered early. Therefore, seniors are recommended to seek help as soon as they notice any signs of infection.

The common first symptoms of the flu include a runny or stuffy nose, fever or cold chills, cough, sore throat, headaches, weakness, tiredness, and body pain. In some seniors, the influenza infection can also lead to vomiting and diarrhea, while in severe cases, it can cause restlessness, loss of appetite, depression, and even aggravate the signs of preexisting heart or lung conditions.

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