4 Tips for Caring for a Senior with the Flu

Kenneth Knowles, MD
Medically reviewed by Kenneth Knowles, MDDecember 9th, 2019

Being a caregiver for a senior can be difficult enough at the best of times. But flu season presents a whole new set of struggles. While a young and healthy person who contracts the flu is likely to get over it quite easily, this common malady can mean serious and life-threatening complications for seniors.

Throughout flu season, it’s important to minimize exposure to anyone who presents symptoms of illness. Frequent hand washing and of course the flu vaccine are also extremely helpful in avoiding this virus. But even the most careful and proactive of us may sometimes contract the flu. What to do then?

1. Seek Medical Help Early

Because it’s quite common for adults over age 65 to develop pneumonia, bronchitis, or other serious health complications after contracting the flu, it’s vital to seek medical help early on. A proper diagnosis is the only way to ensure correct treatment. Additionally, there are steps a medical professional can take to help shorten the course of the illness, including the prescription of antiviral drugs, if indicated.


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Unfortunately, people who travel to emergency rooms with symptoms can put others at risk of contracting the flu. They can also risk exposure to additional germs in the waiting room that can further complicate their condition. Rather than doing that, you can choose to get care delivered to your home with DispatchHealth. With a simple call to 1-866-FLU-CREW they will send a team of emergency care providers (referred to as the “

Traveling Flu Crew“) to your home, ready to diagnose and treat complex injuries and illnesses. They can also perform breathing treatments, check for signs of pneumonia, and provide antiviral drugs to shorten the course of the illness. Best of all, they’re partnered with most major insurance companies as well as Medicare and Medicaid, and they handle billing directly with those companies.

2. Pay Attention to Hydration

Dehydration can be a serious problem for seniors, even when they’re not ill. It’s much more common than most realize, and can lead to all sorts of health problems. Fever, sweating, runny nose and other symptoms of the flu can add to this danger and cause the onset of severe dehydration surprisingly quickly.

Ensure that your elderly friend drinks plenty of water and other clear fluids while they’re sick. If you suspect dehydration be sure to seek further medical treatment.

Severe dehydration, if left untreated, can lead to kidney damage, seizures, and even death.

3. Ensure They Get Plenty of Rest

In addition to being one of the most overlooked preventative measures, sleep is an excellent healing agent for anyone dealing with the flu. While we sleep, our brain produces a protein called AcPb, which has been shown to lead to faster recovery from the flu and many other types of infection.

Additionally, fever is your body’s way of fighting against the viruses causing it distress. This is most effective during deep sleep, which is why fevers tend to rise at night time. While you certainly don’t want to raise or prolong a fever, getting adequate sleep will allow the sleeper’s immune system to do its work and fight off the dangerous germs more efficiently.

4. Watch for Changes

Because the most dangerous aspect of the flu is the development of complications, any changes in symptoms or condition as the disease progresses should be closely monitored. If your loved one develops a wheezing or rattling in the chest, changes in skin coloration, increased or new mental confusion, sudden dizziness or pain in the chest or abdomen, be sure to bring this to the attention of a doctor immediately. These can be signs of dangerous complications that could lead to death if not treated.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/65over.htm
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/general/influenza_flu_homecare_guide.pdf
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000982.htm
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4418942/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2839418/
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/symptoms.htm
The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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