From Home Instead:
This flu season has reached the highest level of cases in nearly a decade. The highest rate of hospitalizations resulting from the flu are among seniors 65 and older, which account for 80 percent of flu-related deaths. Home Instead Senior Care, the nation’s leading provider of in-home senior care, understands the importance of preventing seniors from contracting the flu and ending up in the hospital.
“Taking a few measures, such as encouraging an older adult to get a flu shot or watching out for symptoms of the flu, can go a long way in preventing a senior from contracting the flu or ending up hospitalized,” said Lakelyn Hogan, gerontologist at Home Instead Senior Care. “It’s important to monitor older adults’ health year-round, but it’s even more critical during flu season.”
Hospital stays often lead to more serious health declines for older patients, which can start a cycle of frequent hospital readmissions if the patient does not have a plan and support system in place. Thus, it is imperative that seniors and their families work together to decrease hospitalization risks.
To help reduce the chance of senior loved ones contracting the flu and ending up in the hospital this winter, Home Instead recommends the following:
- Make sure your loved one receives a flu vaccine. Immune systems become weaker with age, so seniors need strong protection against the flu. A vaccine designed specifically for people 65 and older can be more effective. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found, in seniors 65 and older, Fluzone® High-Dose was 24.2 percent more effective in preventing flu compared to a standard-dose vaccine.
- Take every day preventative measures. It may sound simple, but washing your hands and avoiding those who are sick can go a long way. The Center for Disease Control lists six good health habits to stop germs, like avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth and sanitizing properly.
- Keep your aging loved one active. According to the National Institute on Aging, regular physical activity has a range of benefits for seniors, including improved balance, increased energy and reduced risk of depression – all factors that contribute to hospitalization risk. Even in the frigid winter temperatures, resources like GetMomMoving.com offer plenty of suggestions for indoor activities families and seniors can do together to keep the body and mind moving.
- Pay attention to the signs and symptoms. Frequently check in on senior loved ones, pay close attention to their symptoms and any changes to appearance or demeanor, and encourage regular doctor visits to help keep those minor symptoms from becoming a more serious trip to the emergency room. Know all symptoms of the flu and get treatment as soon as possible.
For more information on staying healthy this flu season, visit http://www.preventseniorhospitalizations.com.