Is This the Year of the Flu?


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The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other health officials are cautioning that ’13 is already showing signs of being an unlucky number for flu. In fact, flu season has started ahead of schedule this year, which is earlier than it’s been in ten years, according to the CDC.

Hospitals are overcrowded, lines are long for voccines, and several deaths have already resulted. And the season hasn’t even peaked yet. The website Flu Near You  documents instances of the flu by region. As you can see, there’s been a dramatic spike in documented flu cases in Arizona in just the last week. Because seniors are particularly vulnerable, at Home Instead Senior Care serving the Southeast Valley, we strongly urge both seniors and those that come in regular contact with them to make sure they take the proper precautions to safeguard against flu and ensure an easier recovery if they do get it.

First and foremost, seniors and their caregivers and family members should have a flu vaccine. The effectiveness of a vaccine depends on the strain of flu going around as well as the person getting the vaccination, but the CDC strongly encourages vaccination as a matter of course for good personal and public health. Most places offer a higher dose flu shot designed specifically for people 65 and over, but you should check with your doctor about which one is right for you. One flu vaccine every flu season is covered by Medicare so let this be your shot in the arm to go get one if you haven’t already.

Over-the-counter medications will help reduce symptoms, but they won’t make you less contagious. Since seniors are at high risk for flu-related complications, they should contact their health care provider immediately if they begin to show symptoms of flu. A health care provider may prescribe antiviral medications (like Tamiflu) to help make symptoms less severe and speed recovery.

In addition to antiviral medications, flu.gov provides a non-pharmaceutical RX to help seniors with flu symptoms feel better:

• Get plenty of rest

• Drink clear fluids like water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages to prevent becoming dehydrated

• Place a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead, arms, and legs to reduce discomfort associated with a fever

• Put a humidifier in your room to make breathing easier

• Gargle salt water (1:1 ratio warm water to salt) to soothe a sore throat

• Cover up with a warm blanket to calm chills

At Home Instead Senior Care, we take every precaution to help ensure the health and safety of our clients. If you would like to learn more about caring for a senior, please contact us at 480-827-4343 or Like our Facebook page.

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