Flu and the Elderly
Flu is a disease of the respiratory system, including the nose, throat and lungs. Flu is short for “influenza.” Every year in the U.S. seasonal flu causes thousands of hospital admissions and deaths.
People 65 years of age and older are at greater risk for complications from the flu.
Why is that?
Our immune system weakens with age.
It is estimated that 70-90% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older.
The most common symptoms of flu are body aches, fever, chills, runny nose and feeling tired. These symptoms can last a few days or as long as a week.
- Flu is caused by a virus and it can be very serious.
- Flu is spread easily from person to person by tiny droplets when people cough, sneeze or talk
Know the Difference: Cold vs. Flu
How to Protect Yourself
Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu. Vaccination is especially important for people over 65 because of the high risk of serious complications from flu.
In addition to the flu vaccine, older adults and caregivers can take everyday steps to stop the spread of germs by practicing healthy habits like frequent hand washing and keeping environmental surfaces clean and disinfected.
- Wash your hands with hand-sanitizer or soap and water
- Cover your cough – – cough into the crook of your arm (not hands!)
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Stay away from people who are sick
- Stay home if you are sick
If you are diagnosed with the flu
- Stay home
- Avoid close contact with others
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink fluids
Talk to your healthcare provider about the use of antiviral medication.
Emergency Warning Signs
Anyone 65 years and older should seek emergency care with any if any of the following occur:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain or pressure in the abdomen
- Severe vomiting
- Flu symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
In an effort to keep all Element Care participants healthy each year we offer influenza vaccine to our staff and to all participants. We continue to offer flu vaccine throughout flu season as new staff join our organization and new participants enroll. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Element Care recommends annual flu vaccination every year. Annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza and potentially serious complications. Immune defenses weaken with age, therefore flu vaccination is especially important for people 65 years and older. Older adults are at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) and being hospitalized from the flu.
Infection Control Manager at Element Care