Take Steps to Protect Older Adults Against the Flu

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Home Instead provides tips on how to prepare for this year’s flu season

Fall is the season for ghosts and goblins but perhaps even scarier for seniors is the flu. Last winter’s flu season set a record as the longest in 10 years, hospitalizing an estimated 647,000 people and resulting in more than 61,000 deaths, according to the CDC. And unfortunately, the effects of the current flu season are already being felt. Though the flu “season” typically runs from October to May, the first week of September already saw the start of patient visits to influenza to outpatient clinics.

Although there is no way to predict exactly how bad the flu will be, these early signs are reason enough to take extra precaution this season. This is especially important for older adults who often are at heightened risk and are among the largest group affected. According to the CDC, approximately 70-90 percent of influenza-related deaths and 50-70 percent of influenza-related hospitalizations occur among adults 65 and older.

To protect themselves against the flu, seniors are encouraged to take preventative measures and watch for symptoms.

“The flu is different than the common cold,” said Lakelyn Hogan Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate of Home Instead Senior Care. “Symptoms of the flu are more severe and include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, fatigue or vomiting. Our CAREGivers at Home Instead know how detrimental the virus can be to an older adult’s health and the importance of taking every precaution.”

Home Instead encourages older adults and their families to prepare for this season by using the following tips:

  • Schedule time for your loved one to get the flu vaccine. The flu shot reduces the risk of getting the virus and reduces the severity of the illness. It is recommended to get the flu shot early, ideally by the end of October. Family members and caregivers should also receive the vaccination.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. As noted by the CDC, human immune defenses become weaker with age, which makes older adults more susceptible to viruses and illness. However, increasing Vitamin C intake helps protect seniors before the virus attacks. Broccoli, spinach, strawberries, sweet potatoes, oranges and tomatoes are all high in Vitamin C.
  • Exercise regularly. Moderate exercise helps boost the immune system. A walk around the neighborhood or even staying active with household chores can help fight off symptoms of the flu.
  • Practice daily healthy habits. Simple things such as washing your hands, keeping your hands away from your face and staying away from people who are sick can go a long way to prevent illness and avoid hospitalizations.

The 2019-2020 flu shot is now available. A quadrivalent flu vaccine is being offered this year, which provides protection against four strains of the flu. Contact your health care provider, local urgent care clinic or pharmacy to see if they are administering the vaccine.

For more information on staying healthy this flu season, visit http://www.preventseniorhospitalizations.com.


Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise network provides personalized care, support and education to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, the network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide more than 80 million hours of care annually throughout the United States and 11 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 90,000 CAREGivers worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. Home Instead Senior Care franchise owners partner with clients and their family members to help meet varied individual needs. Services span the care continuum – from providing personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources.

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Dan Wieberg
Home Instead Senior Care
+1 (402) 575-5970
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