Influenza is a serious and highly infectious disease that normally affects between 5 and 20 percent of the United States population every year. This leads to hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths every year.
According to the National Institutes of Health, influenza causes the death of over 36,000 Americans every year. However, these deaths likely could have been avoided if an active effort was made to reduce your risk of influenza. For example, making a few easy lifestyle changes and getting a flu shot are likely all you need to do to avoid dealing with this problem.
Unfortunately, seniors are more likely to deal with issues related to influenza due to the weakened immune system associated with aging. Influenza is a problem that generally subsides for younger individuals, but one that can persist and cause major health problems for seniors.
Before we look at a few tips and changes that you can make to avoid the flu, let’s look at the problem more closely.
Seniors And The Flu
For most people, the flu is something that you will recover in a few days to less than two weeks. With that said, there are some people who are more at risk. For example, senior citizens, due to immune system issues.
The immune system is used to protect the body from foreign and harmful substances such as bacteria and viruses. As mentioned before, there are a number of age related immune system changes that can influence and affect the way that the body deals with these threats.
There are a number of symptoms associated with seniors and the flu, some of these symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Persistent pain and pressure in the chest
- Persistent dizziness and confusion
- Severe muscle pain
- Fever and cough
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions
There are a few things that you can do to reduce the risks from immune system aging. For example, prioritizing diet and exercise can both help boost the immune system. Likewise, limiting smoking and intake of alcohol can help immune system aging.
Along with these tips, you can make a few lifestyle changes to just avoid the flu in general.
Tips To Avoid Flu
Here are a few simple things that you can do in your life to reduce your chances of catching the flu:
Wash Your Hands — Viruses can stay on door handles, handrails, your phone, and other things that you are constantly around. However, making sure to wash your hands with hot water and soap will significantly lower your risk of catching this virus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds before running them under clean, running water and drying them with a clean towel.
Avoid Touching Your Face — Everyone is touching their faces constantly throughout the day, so much that you may not even realize you are doing it. During flu season, putting your hands in your face, around your mouth and nose can make it easy to transfer a virus. However, by being conscious of this and making an active effort to avoid touching your face, you may be able to avoid this problem entirely.
Clean And Disinfect — You are always moving about the house and your room, picking things up, touching them, and more. If you fail to clean these materials, it gives viruses and bacteria the chance to get into your system. Just be sure that you are keeping your living area clean.
Along with these simple things that you can do, you can also find a location that is offering flu vaccines and get your annual flu shot. It is one of the most effective ways that you can avoid the problem during flu season.
The best way that you can protect yourself against the flu and the health problems that can arise from influenza is by getting a flu vaccine.
The flu vaccine is especially important for people 65 years and older because they are at a high risk of developing complications related to the flu. Flu vaccines are updated each season as needed as the viruses change.
High Dose Flu Vaccine — A high dose vaccine is about 4 times as strong as a regular flu shot. This type of flu shot is associated with stronger immune system. Results from different trials have shown that among the more than 30,000 participants that are 65 and older who received the high dose vaccines, 24 percent had fewer influenza infections compared to those who received the standard dose flu vaccine.
Adjuvanted Flu Vaccine — The adjuvanted flu vaccine is made with an additive that creates a stronger immune response to vaccination. One observational study done on the efficacy of the adjuvanted flu vaccine has found that patients who were given this type of vaccination was 63 percent more effective than regular dose flu shots.
Overall, getting a flu vaccine is one of the easiest, least invasive ways to improve your chances of avoiding the flu.
As mentioned before, the flu poses health risks but is even more problematic for seniors as it can lead to major health risks, hospitalization, and even death. While there are a few things that you can do to avoid the flu, some seniors may not have the mobility available to do them. With that said, caregivers and assisted living facilities can provide your loved one with the care that they need to ensure that they can do everything possible to avoid the flu.
One senior living facility in Hobbs that can help is Landmark Senior Living. Landmark is dedicated to providing your loved one with the care and support that they need at this chapter in their lives. If you are interested in learning more about what Landmark can offer your loved one, please visit our website and reach out to schedule a complimentary walkthrough of one of our facilities.