Preparing for flu season should be at the top of your to-do list because Flu (influenza) season is upon us! It’s no fun to be sick for anyone, but older adults are at a higher risk for flu-related complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people 65 and older account for 70–85% of seasonal flu-related deaths and 50–70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations in the U.S.
It’s so important to be well-prepared for the flu season, especially if you’re an older adult. Let’s talk about what you can do to safeguard yourself and those around you.
Preparing for Flu Season
Stock Up on Supplies
When preparing your home and family for flu season, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you have all the essentials:
Over-the-counter medication for fever and cough
A digital thermometer
Schedule Your Flu Shot
Getting your influenza vaccine in preparation for flu season is recommended. Having said that, the most important thing is that you protect yourself by getting vaccinated, whatever the timing. Not only does the vaccine protect you, but it also helps protect those around you, particularly those who are more vulnerable.
Regular handwashing with soap and water is a must. Learn all you ever wanted to know about handwashing in this CDC publication: Frequent Questions About Hand Hygiene. If you can’t wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid Crowded Places
Taking a step back from some of your normal routines can be difficult, but pay attention to what is going on around you. If cases of the flu are spiking in your area, it’s best to limit your exposure. The flu is highly contagious, and avoiding crowds minimizes your risk of contracting it.
Eat Right and Stay Active
A strong immune system can fight off viruses more effectively. Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and lean protein into your diet, and try to stay active. For older adults, it’s important to take their unique dietary needs into account for optimal health.
What to Do if You Get the Flu
Consult Your Doctor Immediately
If you start showing flu symptoms, consult your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Antiviral medication is most effective when started within 48 hours of symptom onset.
(CDC) Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness and, at times, can lead to death. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
fever or feeling feverish/chills
runny or stuffy nose
muscle or body aches
some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever
Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from spreading the virus. This is especially important if you live in a shared residence.
Stay Hydrated and Rest
Fluids and rest are crucial when you’re sick. Make sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep. It is common for older adults to be dehydrated in general, so paying attention to hydration before becoming ill is a good idea.
Keep a close eye on your symptoms. If you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, or confusion, seek emergency medical attention immediately.
A Final Word
Flu season can be a daunting time, particularly for older adults. But with proper preparation and prevention strategies, you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Remember, your best defense against the flu is to get vaccinated, so don’t delay in getting your flu shot this year.
Disclaimer: The content in this blog post is meant for general informational purposes and should not be considered professional advice. While we strive for accuracy, we recommend consulting experts for specific guidance. We are not responsiblefor any decisions made based on this information.
Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide with her husband Wes, combines personal experience and heartfelt dedication in her work. Their journey in eldercare began with a personal story—caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who lived with Alzheimer's. This chapter in their lives not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also kindled a deep-seated passion to support others facing similar challenges. Since then, Liz and Wes have navigated caregiving three more times. These experiences have added layers of depth to their insights, allowing them to offer a blend of empathetic understanding and practical advice through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide. Liz’s commitment to making eldercare more approachable and less daunting shines through in every piece of advice she offers, aiming to ease the caregiving journey for others.