Senior male displaying flu symptoms and blowing her nose.

Is the Flu Dangerous for Elderly Seniors?

Is the Flu Dangerous for Elderly Seniors?

When the weather starts to change, and the snow starts to fall, it always means one thing – the flu season is officially in full swing. What makes flu season so challenging is that the symptoms of the flu often mimic those of the common cold. And when it comes to your elderly loved ones, you can never be too careful.

Flu Symptoms in the Elderly

The most important thing for the elderly and their caregivers to understand is that while flu symptoms can mimic those of the common cold, the results can be much more devastating. According to the CDC, nearly 336,000 individuals died from the flu between 2010 and 2019.

Simply put, influenza is a respiratory illness that can onset in a mild or severe form that infects humans and almost every other mammal on the planet. It is this fact that makes the flu spread so easily around the world.

Influenza A is the most common type of flu and is the cause of almost all of the major outbreaks you have read about.

Influenza B is responsible for about 20% of flu infections. This strand only survives in humans and so it is passed back and forth.

Influenza C is the mildest form of the flu virus and is passed between humans and pigs. This type of flu does not cause epidemics.

The most common symptoms to look for include:

  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Fever (over 101 degrees F)
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea and vomiting

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these flu symptoms it is best to get checked out by your doctor or an outpatient medical center. Be sure to wear a surgical mask the second you feel symptoms start and do your best to keep your distance from the people around you.

The Flu Vaccine for Seniors

In general, the flu is preventable for seniors. Especially for individuals over the age of 65, getting an annual flu vaccine is imperative to the prevention of this illness.

There are specific vaccines designed for people age 65 or older, which includes a high dose of Fluzone. This helps to build a stronger immune system response after the traditional vaccine.

And while you may have heard that the flu shot is not 100% effective, it can often reduce the risk of contracting influenza by almost half. Especially when it comes to the elderly, getting the flu vaccine is an important preventative measure.

Flu season starts in October and goes through May, so getting the vaccine early is key. It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to be fully effective.

Some other ways to protect yourself from the flu this winter:

  • Avoid large crowds
  • Wash hands regularly and avoid contact with the face and mouth
  • Eat healthy, exercise and get rest each day
  • Disinfect things that are used commonly including phones, remotes, and doorknobs

The best thing you can do is to visit a doctor if you start to develop flu symptoms. Stay in tune with your body and listen when it is telling you to slow down this flu season.

Make Your Health a Priority at St. Joseph of the Pines

St. Joseph of the Pines takes care of the tasks associated with daily living so you can focus on living your best life. By engaging in physical activity, socializing, and eating a healthy diet you can do your part to stay healthy for as long as possible. We cater our care to your health goals. Plus, we offer a continuum of care to give you peace of mind for the future. Let us take you on a tour of one of our North Carolina campuses. Contact us today.

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