Senior Flu Prevention and Flu Symptoms

Don't let influenza get you down - get a flu shot today.October is a big month at Capital Senior Living communities across the country, giving seniors many reasons to get excited and celebrate with friends and loved ones. It’s the official kickoff of the 2013 holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all just weeks away from each other in the next three months.  It’s also the unofficial start of fall across the United States, and cooler temperatures are slowly easing their way onto the weather boards, making it much more pleasant to get out and take a walk around beautifully manicured grounds and landscaped courtyards.

While certainly a fun time of year, it’s important to remember that October is also the start of flu season. Much longer-lived than the holiday season, flu season lasts through May, with February being the peak time for the illness. In the United States, 95 percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of hospitalizations due to the flu occur in seniors aged 65 and older. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that people who receive a flu shot are 60 percent less likely to get the disease that season. That’s why it’s important that all residents in our Capital Senior family get vaccinated for the flu.

Seniors this year have two options for vaccination: a regular dose and a higher dose that should result in a stronger immune response. Both protect against the two common Type A flu strains known as H1N1 and H3N2 as well as one strain of Type B, and both should be covered by Medicare and most other health plans. Seniors who have questions about whether they should get a flu shot can talk with their doctor or health professional.

Many of our communities offer onsite flu shot administration or courtesy transportation to medical offices and local pharmacies where flu shots can be obtained. We recommend that our seniors contact their respective communities directly for further details on each community’s available services. Please note that it may be necessary to sign up for a time slot prior to receiving an onsite flu shot or transportation for an offsite flu shot.

In addition to getting a flu shot, there are several additional steps all seniors can take toward staying healthy:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water in your spacious bathrooms.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and be sure to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze.
  • Try to avoid contact with anyone who is ill.
  • Exercise regularly with the wellness, walking and balance programs offered in your community.
  • Get plenty of sleep in the comfort and privacy of your apartment.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy foods offered on the menu and served by our talented culinary teams. We pride ourselves on serving health-promoting, chef-inspired dishes made from the freshest ingredients.
  • Wipe down doorknobs, bathroom faucets and phones with a household disinfectant and make sure linens are washed and dried on a hot setting on a regular basis. Weekly housekeeping services are available in many of our communities and can assist with these tasks.

Signs of the flu are similar to those of a common cold. Seniors who believe that they may have contracted the virus should have their health care provider administer a test to determine if their symptoms truly are the flu. Seniors or their caregivers should seek immediate attention if they have:

  • Fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit  or higher
  • Cough and/or sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and/or body aches including pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Chills
  • Fatigue and/or confusion
  • Nausea, sudden dizziness, vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return

Seniors who get the flu also have a higher chance of getting pneumonia, so a pneumococcal vaccine also may be recommended at the time of the influenza shot.

Prevention is the key to staying healthy this flu season. Seniors at all of our Capital Senior Living communities are encouraged to get their flu shots in a timely manner to stay well throughout this holiday season and into the new year.    

Sources: Flu.gov and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/)

This website contains information, facts, opinions and recommendations of various individuals and organizations regarding senior care, health, nutrition and exercise Capital Senior Living and its affiliates, agents and licensors cannot, and do not, guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose of, or otherwise endorse, any opinions or recommendations, nor does Capital Senior Living constitute the giving of medical, health or fitness advice. Users of the website must consult their own physicians regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to their own conditions.