It’s the time of year when we’re thinking about football, pumpkin pie and … the flu.
With Covid-19 still impacting hospitals as the 2021 flu season gets under way, the Centers for Disease Control advocates getting the flu shot before the end of October—in particular, if you’re an older adult over the age of 65. Flu season is an especially worrisome time for seniors. They are vulnerable to falling ill because the aging process drastically slows down the production of antibodies to combat viruses. Research has shown that seniors who get the flu shot are better protected against serious illness and complications that can occur if they are challenged with other health conditions, such as chronic heart disease, COPD and diabetes.
In addition, studies show that the regular flu shot often isn’t as effective for seniors as it is for other adults. For this reason, the CDC advises that seniors at minimum get two different types of vaccinations: the high-dose Fluzone and the immunity booster Fluad. Overall, there are four FDA-approved antiviral drugs available to treat flu this season. Now’s the time to consult with your family doctor to understand what flu shot would be recommended for you or a senior loved one.
It’s also suggested that anyone who is a caregiver for an elderly individual get the flu shot as well, because even if a senior has gotten a flu shot, vaccinations are not always 100% successful. Caregivers who receive a flu shot will reduce the risk to their senior patient. This applies to friends and family members of seniors, too! You’re encouraged to get your flu shot as early as possible once the season begins. Once you get the flu shot, it will take around two weeks for antibodies to develop.
Here are some other healthy habits that help reduce the risk of picking up or spreading the flu virus:
- Wash your hands frequently, using warm soapy water and scrubbing for 20 seconds at minimum (about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice). Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask others to wash their hands!
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth with your hands, especially if you haven’t washed them in a couple of hours.
- Carry hand sanitizer with you and use after touching high-traffic surfaces like doorknobs, countertops, desk phones, etc.
- Cover your nose and mouth with your arm if you do have to sneeze or cough.
- Heighten your immunity by eating right. Avoid dairy, caffeine, sugar, and processed foods when the weather cools. Help fight off flu and cold germs by drinking broths with cooked garlic or ginger, eating easily digested vegetables, and filtered water or hot tea.
- Strive to sleep at least seven hours every night to give your immune system enough rest to stay strong.
- Find ways to get exercise, even though the weather has turned cold and uninviting. Exercise is necessary to keep the immune system stoked!
- Get help early should you experience flu symptoms (chills, fever, runny nose or congestion, sore throat, cough, body aches, headaches, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, and fatigue).
- Click HERE for more flu facts about “Why People 65 Years and Older Need a Flu Shot” from the CDC.
Because of their training, Amada Senior Care caregivers know how to help seniors practice healthy habits during the flu season. Call us at (866) 752-1961 or visit www.AmadaSeniorCare.com for more information and to arrange a no-cost care consultation from your local Amada Senior Care office.
“Flu Prevention Tips for Protecting Senior Loved Ones” written by Michelle Flores, Amada blog contributor.