Friday, December 6, 2013

Protecting Your Senior with the Flu Shot

Though the holiday season is an exciting and joyous time of year, it also signifies the start of flu season. For seniors especially, this time of year can become dangerous, as elderly individuals are more likely to contract the flu. While the flu will sideline anyone, it is even more risky for seniors, as their immune systems are often already weakened. The flu can exasperate current health problems too, making vaccination important.

Get the flu facts

Experts state that roughly 90 percent of flu-related deaths and 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations in the U.S. occur in people over the age of 65.1 For this reason, it is important to encourage your elderly loved one to get vaccinated so that they are less susceptible to this condition.

Protecting your senior

Ensuring good senior health comes down to attention to detail. Understand that your elderly loved one may have a weakened immune system, and encourage all people who come into contact with that senior to get a shot too. It’s not enough just to get your senior vaccinated, as they may quickly contract the illness from someone else. All family members, eldercare professionals, and friends who regularly come to visit should receive their vaccination too.

Practice good health habits

Even once the elderly individual and those who care for that person are vaccinated, it’s important to keep the focus on hygiene. This means covering a sneeze or cough with your sleeve, washing hands frequently, and avoiding people who are sick and might spread the illness. Remember that germs quickly spread to doorknobs, hand railings, and other places where we place our hands frequently, so proper hand washing is a must after spending a day out in public.

Encourage your senior to wash their hands thoroughly after they use the bathroom and before they prepare a meal. When it comes to care for the elderly, this is an important step. If your senior needs assistance with hand washing, make sure someone is there to help so this step does not get skipped.

Get vaccinated in time

There are myths floating around that the flu shot actually gives the recipient the flu, but these theories are unfounded. The vaccine is safe, and is covered by Medicare. However keep in mind that it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to start working, so make plans to get your senior vaccinated before flu season starts. The flu makes chronic health problems in elderly people worse, so this form of protection is a necessity.

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