As the human body ages, the immune system stops functioning as well as it once did, leaving older adults more susceptible to illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control, seniors account for 90% of those who die from the flu each year and 50-60% of those who are hospitalized for complications due to the flu.
Medical and senior care experts recommend seniors get a flu shot every year as it offers the best way to stay healthy during the flu season which typically begins in early October. Flu vaccines come in two dose levels, a regular dose and a higher dose which has been proven safe and effective and is the preferred dosage for older adults. The higher-dose vaccine fights the same viruses as the regular dose, however offers extra protection which can be extremely beneficial for those with weakened immune systems.
Working with many seniors, we know that some are hesitant to get a flu shot due to the side effects. However, knowing and preparing for the possible side effects can help ensure safety and alleviate anxiety. For instance, the flu shot can cause people to feel faint or dizzy. Therefore, seniors going to get their flu shot should be accompanied by a reliable friend, family member or part-time caregiver who can provide reliable transportation and assist with walking. Other reactions to the vaccine are minimal but can include pain at the injection site, aches, low fever and tiredness.
Because seniors can face more serious complications if they become sick with the flu such as bronchitis, ear infections, pneumonia and sinus infections, it is important that the proper preventative measures are taken. Along with the flu shot, good health habits like washing hands frequently and avoiding those who are suffering from flu symptoms can all help seniors avoid becoming sick or ill.
If you have an aging parent or loved one, encourage them to get the flu shot and help them stay healthy during the 2014 flu season! And for more information about senior health and wellness, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Columbus today at 614-481-8888.