Senior Flu Prevention and Taking Care of the Elderly

Getting the flu can be a nasty experience, no matter what your age or general health, and each year flu shots are a major public health initiative. But, because of the risks to the elderly, senior flu prevention is especially important.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), each year more than 200,000 people will be hospitalized because of the flu, and 36,000 of them will die.

Seasonal (or common) flu is one of the most highly contagious illnesses. It is spread by “respiratory drops”-coughing and sneezing. Someone may touch something with the flu virus on it-such as door knobs, telephones or shopping cart handles-then unwittingly touch their mouth or nose.

And it’s not enough to simply stay away from other people who feel sick. People may be contagious one day before they develop any symptoms, and for up to five days after becoming sick. That’s part of the problem; people don’t realize they have the virus before they actually feel sick. Flu symptoms include fever, chills, runny or stuffy nose, headache, sore throat, cough, extreme fatigue, and muscle aches. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are sometimes present, but rarely prominent.

Flu season typically runs from October through the end of February, but some years it runs into March and April as well. It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts influenza each year. Once someone gets the flu, the only real “cure” is to rest and drink plenty of fluids, although a doctor may prescribe Tamiflu┬« or Relenza┬«, both anti-viral medications which can keep the influenza virus from spreading inside the body and shorten the duration of symptoms. Both must be taken within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, and neither is a substitute for a flu vaccination.

While otherwise healthy adults can be laid low by the flu for a full week, senior citizens are at risk for becoming much sicker. Because the flu is really a pretty severe illness, they may not have as much of what we call ‘physiological reserve’ as a younger adult. So, seniors will feel very sick from a case of the flu and that puts them at greater risk for complications.

Staying away from work or crowded places while sick is important to prevent spreading the flu to others. But that’s not an option for seniors living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, making senior flu prevention that much harder at these communities.

While vaccination is the most important senior flu prevention, it’s only 70 to 90 percent effective, so some people who receive the vaccination will still get the flu.

Although some people believe certain foods or vitamins can ward off illness, they aren’t effective for senior flu prevention.

A better idea is to take some natural supplements to improve immune system. BioGI is a new, plant based probiotic supplement that contains 11 different probiotics. Studies have shown that probiotic supplements help support digestive health, strengthen the immune system and the circulatory system, and improve anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular function. For more information please visit:

During flu season, practicing good hygiene can help people avoid catching or spreading the flu. Wash hands frequently, especially after touching door knobs and stair rails in public places. Always cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and immediately wash hands afterward. And, of course, stay away from people who are sick. People taking care of the elderly especially need to follow this type of common sense senior flu prevention.



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