Influenza, otherwise known as the flu, is a common viral infection that many people face during the dreaded “flu season” that occurs from around October until May. With symptoms including high fever, aching muscles, chills, sweating, headache, fatigue, nasal congestion, sore throat and dry coughing, this virus is no fun for anyone. The Mayo Clinic states that many times, the flu and its symptoms will resolve itself with no help from a doctor. However there are some groups that are at a higher risk than others and should seek help from a doctor to protect themselves from further complications.
According to Ryan Carney, Executive Director at Travanse Living™ at Wheaton, an Assisted Living and Enlight Memory Care community in Wheaton, IL, those with certain risk factors are much more likely to develop the flu. “We know that seniors are impacted greatly by the flu, but when age is mixed with a number of other factors, it can increase their chances even more,” says Ryan. “For example, seniors with chronic illnesses, weakened immune systems and who are overweight are more likely to become infected. Seniors who live in communities where the infection is present are also more likely to get sick. This is one of the main reasons it is so important to get a flu shot – in order to better protect not only the senior themself, but to protect others who may be more prone to get it.”
For healthy adults, typical flu symptoms may be all that they face, but when it comes to children and seniors, complications can occur that extend far beyond the realm of the flu. According to the Mayo Clinic, these can include bronchitis, heart problems, ear infections, asthma flare-ups, and worst of all, pneumonia, which can become deadly for seniors.
What Can Seniors Do to Protect Themselves from the Flu
While once seniors get infected there isn’t much left to do but to rest and get plenty of fluids, there’s plenty that can be done to protect them from getting the flu in the first place. Try some of the following:
Get the flu shot. Seniors, as well as anyone who comes into contact with the senior should receive the flu shot. These shots should be given to everyone, but especially to infants and seniors, as their risk for complications is higher. This can not only help the person receiving the shot to keep the infection away, but it will also help those who they are in contact with to not get infected. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), almost 58,000 hospitalizations were averted due to seniors being vaccinated, making the quick trip to get the shot a little less inconvenient when you consider the lengthy hospital stay from not being immunized.
Stay away from people who are sick. This is just a good general rule of thumb. If you know anyone who is sick or may have the flu, try to distance yourself from them until they are no longer contagious. In general, those infected are contagious for 5 to 7 days. If family or friends may be coming to your home to visit, kindly request that they refrain from visiting and perhaps call if they are sick. If you live in a senior living community, try to stay out of crowded areas and refrain from eating meals at busy times, as this may increase the susceptibility of getting sick.
If seniors are sick, they should stay home. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the infection can be passed onto someone else before the senior even knows they are sick and especially when they are sick. As hard as it can be, if you think you may have been exposed or may be getting sick, try to stay home. Reschedule any appointments, don’t go to any fitness classes – try exercising at home instead! – and don’t meet up with friends or family. Everyone will understand, and most likely be glad, because they don’t want to get sick either.
Wash hands & clean often. Because the virus can be spread to others who are about 6 feet away, according to the CDC, it’s important to wash your hands and other commonly used surfaces such as door handles and light switches. It’s mainly known that droplets from when people cough, sneeze or talk are the main way that people get infected with the flu, but it’s also believed that touching surfaces or objects that others who are sick have touched and then touching the mouth or nose can also spread the sickness. Soap and water will work just fine, but if this is not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub, says the CDC.
Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or want to learn more about flu season. Travanse Living™ at Wheaton is also available to help with any questions. Feel free to call or visit us today!
Experience Life. Uplifted! at Travanse Living™ at Wheaton
Travanse Living™ at Wheaton offers Assisted Living and Enlight Memory Care services to individuals in the area. Travanse Living™ communities offer the best of both worlds – the dignity, comfort and peace of private apartment suites as well as spacious and abundant social areas – both inside and outside. Our beautiful communities, rich in care, services and amenities, are complemented by our life-enriching and diverse programming.
Travanse Living is more than a warm, welcoming and supportive place to call home. It is an engaging, worry-free lifestyle for individuals needing senior living services or memory care. After all, while you may need a bit of support to remain living independently, your desire to live a full, active and meaningful lifestyle hasn’t changed one bit.
To ensure quality in every aspect of the community, we turned to Pathway to Living™ to operate and manage Travanse Living. Award-winning VIVA!SM programming by Pathway to Living™ keeps residents active and engaged within our community. We encourage our residents to remain active – physically, intellectually and spiritually – living a life filled with purpose, meaning and fulfillment.