Caregivers, seniors need to prepare as flu season approaches

Contracting the flu can cause significant health problems for people of all ages, but the virus is particularly harmful to the senior population. Adults 65 and older have the highest rate of hospitalization and death from the flu, according to The Public Health Agency of Canada. Additionally, adults with chronic illnesses are also at a higher risk of serious complications from the common virus. Flu season often begins in October and can continue through the spring, but it typically peaks around January and February. As a result, there is plenty of time for seniors and their caregivers to collaborate on a plan to stay safe as flu season kicks into high gear in the coming weeks and months.

Vaccination is key 
The most common, and easiest, way for seniors to protect themselves from the flu is to get vaccinated as early as possible. Experts say that the flu shot often prevents between 70 and 90 percent of cases in both children and adults, and patients are guarded for up to six months from the time they receive the vaccine. Not all flu shots are one-size-fits-all, however. For instance, the quadrivalent vaccine, which is new this year, protects against an additional B-strain virus. Meanwhile, the fluzone high-dose contains higher amounts of the antigen meant to stave off the flu.

More than the shot
While the vaccine is an important part of preventing the flu, seniors and caregivers need to do more than simply get the shot, according to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. For instance, simple steps such as thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water at least twice a day can cut down the risk significantly. Additionally, not touching your eyes, mouth and face, keeping common surfaces clean and avoiding large groups of potentially infected individuals may help as well.

Act quickly
Sometimes, despite all precautions, seniors can still come down with the flu. In this case, it’s essential for caregivers to act quickly and take the right steps. For starters, caregivers should be on the lookout for the symptoms - fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches and headache. From there, it’s essential that your loved one undergo a medical evaluation as soon as possible so they can receive the appropriate treatment.