Senior Flu Prevention

It’s that time of year again! Leaves are falling and the air has a chill that gets us excited about wearing sweaters and coats. Unfortunately, flu is also making its rounds — and will likely do so through February.

People of all ages and walks of life can catch flu, but seniors over 65 are among those at particular risk for flu-related complications like pneumonia, bronchitis, or sinusitis. The good news is that there are various actions that may be taken to prevent the flu.

Prevent Flu Like a Pro

The flu shot is the best line of defense against the flu for most people. It is especially helpful to get the shot annually, and to know it takes two weeks to become fully effective.

Those who wish to get the flu shot should consult their medical professional(s), and disclose allergies to them. People with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome should not get the shot.

Get Fluent in Flu

Seniors can benefit from learning about flu. Knowing the facts can prevent coming into contact with it and spreading it.

What is the flu? The flu is a contagious respiratory illness brought on by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs.

How does flu spread? Flu is believed to spread through tiny droplets when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. The droplets can transfer to mouths or noses of those within six feet of a person with flu, or reach a surface (and live there for two hours or more) that another person may touch, and then transfer to their own mouth, nose, or eyes. 

When are those with flu contagious? People with flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their illness starts, and they can pass it to another person before or while knowing they are sick. The time between exposure and infection is usually two days, but can be one to four.

Is it flu or a cold? Flu is fast-coming and usually brings on fever, chills, cough, body aches, headaches, and tiredness. Flu only sometimes includes sneezing, sore throat, and/or stuffy nose. Flu can be tested for, and antiviral drugs do exist for it. A cold, on the other hand, brings gradual effects including a runny or stuffy nose, chest discomfort, a cough, sore throat, sneezing, and sometimes fatigue and aches. Colds do not often bring chills, fever, or headaches. 

Stop Flu Before it Starts

Best flu-prevention practices include:

  • getting an annual flu shot
  • avoiding close contact with others who are sick
  • covering mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • washing hands with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds, several times a day, and definitely after coughing or sneezing
  • sanitizing hands if water is not available
  • throwing tissues directly into the trash after using them
  • avoiding contact with eyes, nose, and mouth
  • following a healthy diet
  • exercising regularly
  • getting regular checkups by a medical professional

Applying flu-prevention practices and sharing them with others can bring positive effects during flu season. Readers of all ages, and especially seniors and senior caregivers, be as proactive as possible this flu season and help to prevent flu near you!

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