The flu season typically occurs in the fall and winter, with December through February being the peak time for the virus, but it can still be spread throughout the year, according to the CDC. However, as we have seen for this year thus far 2020 has been a year of major uncertainty. Getting vaccinated now, especially if you are an older adult over the age of 60, is more important than ever.
Most people think that the flu is just a cough or a runny nose, but it is much more serious. The flu is a respiratory virus, that can be a very deadly to some with preexisting conditions or weaker immune systems. Symptoms of the flu virus can range from cough, headache, fatigue, chest discomfort, and sometimes even body aches. Typically, it would take the average person one to two weeks to fully get over the flu. However, for older adults, sometimes it can take longer or have lasting effects on the body. During the flu season older adults are much more vulnerable to catching the virus. According to WebMD, adults over the age of 84 have the highest risk of dying from becoming infected with the seasonal flu and, adults over the age of 74 face the second highest risk of having complications due to the flu virus.
Benefit of Getting a Flu Shot
Every year, it appears that a new virus or strand of virus, is introduced to the world. One virus that we know for sure that will come every year is the influenza virus. According to the CDC, getting the flu shot is something very easy to do and should be done every year. Normally, it would take about two weeks for the flu vaccine to provide the body with protection from the virus. This makes it even more important for older adults to get the vaccine earlier than most people, because many older adults have weaker immune systems. According to the National Institute on Aging, receiving the flu shot right before the flu season starts, can reduce the chances of older adults becoming hospitalized by 70%. Also, according to the National Institute of Aging, receiving the flu vaccine could also reduce the chance of death by 85%, especially in older adults.
Risks of the Flu for Seniors
Since older adults’ immune systems are weaker, it makes it much harder to fight off viruses and infections. The weaker immune systems also make complications to those viruses and infections much worse. Complications to the influenza virus for older adults’ range from dehydration, pneumonia, and most times worsening of chronic medical conditions.
Having pneumonia as an older adult is a very serious complication. It can lower the body temperature, cause vomiting and nausea, and even cause confusion. According to Healthline, leaving something like pneumonia left untreated, can cause bacteria to get into the bloodstream and cause organ failure. This can cause major lung infection and can also lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs or a lung abscess. Other complications to the flu virus can include other serious conditions such as asthma, emphysema and even heart disease. Having complications like these as an older adult can be detrimental to their overall health. Seeing a doctor immediately is recommended. The sooner an older adult sees the doctor, the better; this way treatment can begin to work much faster and can help treat more serious symptoms.
Just like many other adults, when catching the flu and beginning treatment, getting much rest, and drinking plenty of fluids are very important. However, one thing that many older adults forget is that when taking over the counter medication for the flu, keep in mind that some medicines may contradict with medications that are being taken already due to preexisting conditions. Overall, getting vaccinated for the flu is very important no matter when becoming vaccinated. Please make sure to get your elderly loved one vaccinated as soon as possible. Staying healthy during these trying times are more important than ever and being vaccinated would be one less thing to worry about.
For more information or helpful ideas regarding senior care please our blog at nolahomecare.com.
By: Jasmine Stokes of Nola @ Home Care