By now you have probably heard the news that the first case of Ebola has been discovered in the U.S. and that has a lot of people on edge.
While it is a little scary, there’s another virus going around that kills up to 50,000 Americans every year and many put off taking the single most effective precaution available to prevent it. We’re talking, of course, about the flu… and the importance of getting a flu shot.
While flu shots don’t protect against all strains of flu, they are a huge step in the right direction. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) cites one study that says flu vaccination was associated with a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages and a 77% reduction among adults 50 years of age and older during a given flu season.
For seniors and those who care for them, protecting against flu is especially important. 90 percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 and older.
Seniors tend to have a more vulnerable immune system, which makes them more likely to catch flu from someone with whom they have regular contact. That’s a strong case for senior care workers and family members to get the shot. Another one is their own well-being. It’s tough to care for another person when you’re besieged with aches and pains yourself.
In addition to the shot, the CDC offers these preventative actions in order to halt the spread of germs:
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people and while sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
• If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
During flu season, it’s also important to ensure you are getting enough sleep so that your immune system is working as well as it can. At Home Instead, we have options such as overnight care and respite care that can help with this. For more information, please contact us at 480-827-4343 or visit us at www.homeinstead.com/195.
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.
Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.