The Spread of the Flu in Senior Communities

It’s a widely known fact that adults over the age of 65 are at a much higher risk for serious complications related to the flu. If just one person in a senior community gets sick, the flu can rapidly spread through the whole group, causing untold illnesses and even deaths. There are way s to protect yourself and your friends and neighbors to keep an outbreak from becoming critical.

While it’s not possible to know the number of flu-related deaths in the U.S., it’s estimated that between 12,000 and 56,000 people have died annually from complications related to influenza. A further 140,000 to 710,000 are hospitalized each year. In fact, during the 2015-2016 season, roughly 153,000 adults over age 65 were hospitalized due to the flu or flu-related complications.  

Vaccinations

The CDC recommends that all seniors get vaccinated each year, by the end of October if possible. Choose either the high dose vaccine, specially formulated for those over 65, or the adjuvanted vaccine which has been proven 63 percent more effective than the standard dose. Avoid the nasal spray vaccine, intradermal shot, or jet injector, as these are not recommended for seniors.

The pneumococcal vaccine is another important and related vaccine recommended for seniors. It will not protect against the flu itself, but may keep you from developing some of the more severe flu-related complications such as pneumonia, meningitis, and other infections. Since a good number of deaths related to flu result from pneumonia, this is a powerful and important step toward flu season health.

Prevention

In addition to the vaccinations, there are practical, every day ways to help prevent illness and keep from spreading germs. The first thing to remember that a lack of sleep or poor diet can lead to a compromised immune system. Taking care of yourself every day is the first and most important step in maintaining health.

Next, be sure to wash your hands regularly, with soap and warm water. Often the flu is spread through the things we touch, so this simple act can make a big difference. Additionally, try not to touch your face any more than necessary, and only after washing your hands well. This way, if you do come into contact with the germs, you won’t spread it to the vulnerable mucus membranes in your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Finally, if you do contract the illness, avoid spreading it to other seniors in your community by isolating yourself as much as possible until you are no longer contagious. If you do have to leave your home or interact with others, it’s helpful to wear a medical mask so that you won’t accidentally pass on the bug to those you encounter.

Elderly woman receiving care at home

A House Call for Diagnosis and Treatment

If you do become ill, it’s best to seek treatment early on. The medications to help alleviate the symptoms of the flu are best when started within 48 hours of the onset of your symptoms. Delays in diagnosis and treatment may result in prolonging the symptoms and complications of the flu.

However, many seniors don’t drive, and those that do may not feel safe behind the wheel when in the grips of illness. Additionally, going out to the doctor’s office, the ER, or an urgent care clinic risks exposing yourself to further contagions and exposing others to your unhealthy germs. So what’s a person to do?

The DispatchHealth Traveling Flu Crew is an excellent solution. They allow you to get an old-fashioned medical house call so a team of ER-trained professionals will come and treat you in the comfort of your own home. Because they’re not rushed in an office setting, they have the time to really discuss your symptoms and medical history, as well as answer any questions you may have.

And these caring and competent teams treat so much more than just flu. They’re also happy to be of assistance whether you’re suffering from breathing difficulties, dehydration, or migraine headaches. In fact, they can handle anything your local urgent care does, and a few things they may not.

Best of all, a house call from DispatchHealth costs much less than a trip to the local emergency department. They’re an affordable alternative for seniors on a fixed income, and they even take Medicare and most other insurance plans. On average, patients pay between $40-$50 depending on their plan.

So the next time you feel flu-like symptoms, or need urgent care for other common to complex illnesses and injuries, stay cozy on the couch and get medical care delivered.

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About the Author
DispatchHealth Staff The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.