While there's no official start and end to flu season, it's good to get ready once the leaves start turning. For seniors, prevention and education are critical during flu season, especially after the 2017-2018 period during which the condition took an outsized and fatal toll on Americans of all ages.
Seniors, however, are usually more at risk of developing more serious complications from the flu and are more susceptible to harmful consequences. Retirement communities often take preparatory steps in advance of flu season, but there are things seniors at home or on their own can do to further protect themselves.
Flu season may take some time to gear up, but that's all the more reason for seniors to get ahead of the issue. Here are some ways for seniors to more effectively prepare for flu season:
Know what the flu looks like
The first step to take is understanding the flu. Before seniors can act proactively, they have to become familiar with the threat they face. While sometimes confused with the common cold, the flu is much more dangerous, and can be characterized by symptoms that are a bit more severe. Headaches, coughs and a runny nose are associated with both a cold and the flu, but if symptoms like body aches, chills and fatigue materialize and persist, the flu may be more of a concern.
"Prevention and education are critical during flu season."
If issues like vomiting, diarrhea and trouble breathing come up, then it's an even more critical sign that the flu is suspect. Having this information is hugely important for seniors, who can use this knowledge to stay aware and guarded against symptoms.
Get a vaccination
The good news about avoiding the flu is it can be effectively done with a vaccination. Most seniors are familiar with the service and the process, but it's worth repeating that this is a resource seniors must take advantage of. Some retirement communities offer them during annual drives, while local pharmacies, clinics and health care providers also offer them. Seniors can use their zip code to check for CDC-listed sites here.
In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone receive a seasonal flu vaccine each year by the end of October. Yet it's not as simple as one shot and you're done — unfortunately for those who don't particularly like needles. The CDC contends that given the nature of the flu, that subsequent vaccinations through January could provide the strongest line of defense.
It's worth noting that there are also two flu vaccinations specifically designed for those 65 and older: one that's higher dosage, and another that provides a stronger immune response.
Take basic preventative steps
Leading a flu-cautious life during the season doesn't end at getting a vaccination. It also entails taking a number of simple precautions throughout everyday life, some of which include:
- Getting enough nutrients (like vitamin C and D) in your diet.
- Taking a break from socializing with neighbors if they've got the bug.
- Washing your hands (just a reminder!) and keeping hand sanitizer on you in public.
If you want any more advice about how seniors can get ahead of flu season in retirement, contact Edgewood today.