As we kick off the New Year and resolve to make lifestyle changes to improve our health, one of the top resolutions on our list should be to steer clear of coming down with the flu – particularly for seniors, who are more susceptible to complications from the flu. At THE MEDICAL TEAM, our goal is to help seniors remain as healthy and well as possible, especially during flu season. Keep these flu facts and prevention strategies in mind:
- Is it the flu, or just a cold? While flu and cold symptoms share a lot of similarities initially – running and stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, fatigue – flu symptoms escalate to include fever that can last for several days, muscle aches, worsening cough and shortness of breath. The flu can also lead to more serious health concerns such as pneumonia and sepsis. The doctor can determine whether an illness is from the flu or an ordinary cold virus, and prescribe a treatment plan accordingly.
- What treatment options are available if it is the flu? An antiviral medication may be prescribed by the doctor, particularly for those over age 65 and in other high-risk groups. This medication is most effective if taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Rest, plenty of fluids, and over-the-counter medications can also help ease symptoms.
- What about flu shots? Doctors recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older receive the flu vaccine, but particularly older adults and others who are considered high-risk. The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu as it is comprised of weakened or dead strains of the virus. Side effects can, however, include mild muscle aches, low-grade fever, and soreness in the area of the injection that can last a day or two.
Because the flu is highly contagious, it’s important, of course, to steer clear of seniors when you are ill. However, those with the flu virus are contagious even before symptoms appear. To reduce the chance of spreading the flu and other illnesses, wash hands often, and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue (and dispose of tissues immediately).
For more tips on helping seniors remain flu free this winter, and for hands-on assistance in caring for those who do become ill, contact THE MEDICAL TEAM. Our compassionate, fully trained and experienced care team is available as needed to provide professional in-home care for seniors – even if the need is for just a few hours. We serve seniors in New Orleans, Detroit, Austin, Dallas and the metro DC area and welcome the opportunity to assist the seniors in your life.