Flu symptoms are alike, no matter what the age bracket. In seniors, however, a bout of the flu can lead to lengthy hospitals stays and may even be fatal.
Older people are significantly more vulnerable to flu-related complications, like pneumonia, dehydration and the worsening of chronic ailments.
The increased health risk in seniors is due to this age group’s decreased immunity, a phenomenon that naturally occurs as people age.
The smartest way seniors can thwart the flu this season is to get a flu vaccine.
Choose the Right Flu Vaccine
Seniors are given a handful of vaccine options to prevent the flu and its related complications. Physicians treating elderly patients will recommend the optimum vaccine:
High-dose flu shots are available to those aged 65 and older. The specialized vaccine is four times more potent than traditional flu shots intended for younger people, giving older folks amped up immune responses to make up for their decreased immunity.
The high-dose flu shot contains a quadruple dose of antigens in comparison with a regular flu shot. Approved since 2009, high-dose flu shots stimulate higher antibody productions in older people.
The adjuvanted flu vaccine, Fluad, also strengthens seniors’ immune responses. Newer to healthcare (available since the 2016-2017 flu season), Fluad offers a 63 percent greater effectiveness than standard flu shots.
Seniors are also advised to stay up to date on the pneumococcal vaccination, which helps to ward off pneumococcal illnesses, such as pneumonia, meningitis and infections to the bloodstream. The pneumococcal vaccine may be given at the same time as the flu vaccine.
Get Vaccinated in Autumn
Flu season is a 13-week period during which people are more likely to catch the flu virus and become ill with the flu. The flu season starts in late fall and ends in early spring of the following year. Peak flu season generally falls in January or February.
Older adults should make efforts to get vaccinated no later than the end of October, when flu season begins its harsh rampage. The flu vaccine’s immunity protection takes approximately two weeks to take full effect.
All flu vaccines remain active for an entire year. Influenza virus strains change yearly, making last year’s flu vaccine ineffective. Flu vaccines are also updated annually to address the changing viruses. Consequently, seniors are advised to get a flu shot every autumn, regardless of whether or not they received the vaccine the prior year.
Medical experts warn that getting a flu shot too early may cause the vaccine to wane before flu season ends, leaving the senior without full protection throughout the end of flu season. Be aware that flu season may last until early May.
Still, getting the flu shot later is better than not getting vaccinated at all. Booster flu shots are available for seniors who are vaccinated early, giving them protection until flu season ends.
Get a Flu Shot Locally
Seniors may get flu shots from many common places:
- Doctor’s office
- Local clinic
- Grocery store pharmacies
- Work (on flu shot days)
- Airport clinics or kiosks (in select airports)
- Drive-thru flu shot clinics
Older adults may visit the www.Flu.gov website and use the Flu Vaccine Finder to locate a wide range of local, convenient locations to get the flu shot.
Avoid Flu Vaccines When Allergic
Elderly persons who experience allergic reactions to a flu shot or to any of its ingredients should not get a flu vaccine. Ingredients found in flu vaccines include gelatin, eggs and antibiotics, among others. Those with allergies to eggs are advised to discuss their sensitivity with their doctor prior to getting a flu vaccine. Symptoms of an allergy to flu vaccines include wheezing, breathing problems and dizziness.
Although a flu vaccine also comes in the form of a nasal spray, adults over the age of 50 are advised to NOT use a nasal spray flu vaccine.
Know the Cost of Flu Shots
Flu shots may be obtained for free or at a low cost. Seniors with medical insurance may refer to their health insurance policy for information on preventative care. Elderly people can get flu vaccinations during a physician office visit to offset the cost of the shot. Certain pharmacies that accept a senior’s medical insurance or Medicare Part B provide flu shots free of charge.
Without insurance, pharmacies may charge $40.99 for a flu vaccine and $66.99 for a senior-dose vaccine.
Take Flu Prevention Steps
A flu shot is an effective way to prevent an infection by a flu virus. However, doctors note three to four different flu strains are present each season. Getting a flu shot, while protecting against one strain of the flu virus, may not effectively diffuse another strain. Keep in mind that getting the flu shot in the first place offers seniors significant protection against the flu.
In addition to getting a flu vaccine, the elderly can take preventative measures to ward off the flu, including staying away from sick people, covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing, washing hands often and avoiding touching one’s mouth, eyes and nose.
Elderly loved ones who fall ill with the flu should receive proper attention. Compassionate care may be provided by an in-home caregiver when the senior’s family is unable to provide continual support.
Assisting Hands Home Care in Hinsdale is a reputed senior care agency that staffs skilled, experienced caregivers. When non-medical, in-home care is a benefit, choose Assisting Hands Home Care for your family’s needs.
Care is flexible, ranging from respite care to long-term care. When your loved one experiences flu symptoms, our caregivers will remind the care recipient to take his or her prescribed medications.
Dependable caregivers provide assistance with personal needs (including bathing, dressing, grooming and toileting).
When the flu makes rest a priority, our caregivers will prepare meals and help struggling seniors with eating.
Compassionate caregivers also provide transportation to doctor’s appointments to ensure your loved one’s healthcare needs are met.
Assisting Hands Home Care serves the senior populations in Hinsdale and the surrounding areas with dedication and commitment to helping seniors age with dignity.