To many people, catching the flu means missed work and a miserable week spent stuck in bed. But for seniors, the flu can be much more serious. As we get older, our immune system naturally gets weaker. This means that an illness we could shake off with ease in our youth hits harder and lingers longer as we age. In an average year, many seniors are at risk of serious complications or even death due to influenza. The COVID-19 crisis could compound the usual dangers of flu season, putting seniors at even higher risk. Luckily there’s a simple, effective, and easily-attainable weapon in the fight against influenza: your annual flu shot.
The Flu is Serious, Especially for Seniors
In a bad year, over ten percent of the U.S. population gets infected with the flu. Though influenza may be a tenth as deadly as COVID-19, it has resulted in up to 800,000 hospitalizations and 60,000 deaths per year. For seniors, however, the risks are even higher. Seniors make up between 50 and 70 percent of flu-related hospitalizations, and 75 to 80 percent of flu-related deaths. This vulnerability makes it crucial that seniors get vaccinated for the flu.
Each year, medical scientists predict which strains of influenza will be circulating. A more accurate prediction means a more effective vaccine. Ideally, the flu vaccine can reduce the chances of needing to go to the doctor for the flu by up to 60 percent. And even if the vaccine doesn’t prevent you from catching the flu, it can protect you from the worst effects. Studies have shown that vaccinated people who still catch the flu have milder symptoms, less chance of needing ICU care, or shorter stays if they do. Vaccinated adults are 52 to 79 percent less likely to die from the flu than unvaccinated ones.
The body needs about two weeks after receiving the flu vaccine to build up immunity, so it’s wise to get your shot as soon as possible.
COVID-19 Adds Additional Complications
Getting an annual flu vaccine protects yourself and others from potential risks. This year, however, it’s more important than ever. With COVID-19 still at large, a flood of patients with severe flu symptoms could overwhelm hospitals and strain resources, making it harder for those affected to get treatment.
It may also be possible to have both COVID-19 and the flu simultaneously, though the likelihood and severity of such infections remain to be seen. Either way, it’s unlikely that fighting two dangerous illnesses at the same time would be an enjoyable experience. Evidence also suggests that fighting off the flu can make you more susceptible to other illnesses. Overall, it’s better to get your flu shot and minimize the risks.
Home Caregivers Offer Protection and Comfort
Of course, the flu vaccine does not guarantee 100 percent protection from catching the flu. That’s why having a home caregiver can provide an additional layer of support. A caregiver can run errands that might otherwise expose vulnerable people from coming into contact with the flu virus. Caregivers can also provide comfort and monitoring if a client does catch the flu.
Getting fluids and nutrients is extra important when we’re sick, and it’s also extra difficult. A caregiver can keep seniors hydrated, prepare healthy meals, and keep seniors as comfortable as possible while they fight off the flu. If symptoms begin to look more serious, a caregiver can be the first to sound the alarm and get a suffering senior the help they need. Overall, having a caregiver is a great way to back up the protection a flu shot provides. When it comes to your health, it’s best not to leave things to chance.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.