Catching the flu is a nasty, uncomfortable experience no matter how old you are. For our older relatives and friends, however, the risk of influenza is much higher than younger people in good health.
While the common cold and flu share many symptoms—like a runny nose, sore throat, and cough—the flu has far more serious health repercussions for seniors. Each year, thousands are hospitalized with symptoms that have gone ignored or misdiagnosed. However, you can help the senior in your life avoid or treat this virus.
Learn a few simple tips to protect an older loved one from the flu, who is at risk, symptoms to watch for, and available treatments.
The majority of flu cases occur between November and April; however, there are still incidents reported each year in October and the summer months. Implementing a few of the following tips in your life, and helping your loved one do the same, can protect them from the flu year round.
Anyone can catch the flu, but some are more susceptible than others. The following are at the highest risk of contracting the virus:
The most common symptoms of the flu are fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and—for some—vomiting or gastrointestinal distress. However, the “expected” symptoms of the virus are not typical symptoms in older adults. This confusion leads to many overlooked and misdiagnosed flu cases each year. The following are the common symptoms found in seniors:
If you suspect your loved one may have the flu, visit your primary care physician immediately. Ignoring symptoms can lead to serious health implications like pneumonia, dehydration, and—in the most severe cases—death.
Similar to other infections, bed rest and fluids are the best treatments available for the flu. However, for those looking for additional relief, your loved one’s doctor may also prescribe an antiviral to further alleviate the symptoms. Over-the-counter pain relievers—like acetaminophen and ibuprofen—can also help with the aches and pains that are often associated with the flu.
If your loved one begins to experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
By implementing these tips and keeping in mind the symptoms and available treatments, you’ll be better equipped to protect an older loved on from the flu and keep them happy and healthy.
We know trying to keep your loved one away from germs can get overwhelming. If you need assistance caring for your parent or relative, there is no shame in asking for help. In-home experts can provide the necessary care and supervision to help keep your loved one virus-free during flu season. You can ensure he or she is happy, healthy, and safe while finding balance in your own life.
Safe-T Home Care is an in-home care agency in Monticello, Indiana. We provide services such as transportation, personal care, and companionship to your loved ones so they can remain safely at home and maintain as much independence as possible. For more information, please visit our website or like us on Facebook.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still here for you. We’re continuing to care for clients by running errands, providing transportation to doctor’s appointments, and more.
Judy Kanelos, Safe-T Home Care Executive Director