By Jo Ellen Bleavins of Gardant Management Solutions
As our temperatures start growing colder and our days shorter with the onset of autumn, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns us that every year the United States experiences a seasonal flu epidemic.
Outbreaks of the flu can start as early as October and can last through the end of May. Usually they hit their peak between December and February.
People 65 and older are at a greater risk of developing serious complications from the flu. The CDC notes that in recent years, people 65 and older have accounted for 80% to 90% of flu related deaths and between 50% and 70% of flu related hospitalizations.
Things You Can Do To Reduce Your Risk
The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccine as soon as the flu vaccine is available. The shot may not prevent the flu, but can help with the symptoms.
You can also take preventive measures to reduce the risk of catching the illness or of spreading it to others.
● Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and avoid coming into close contact with someone who has the flu.
● Cover your cough and sneeze. Use tissues to blow your nose and throw them away.
● Do not drink from the same glass or share clothes or linens.
● Encourage everyone in your house to wash their hands with soap and water after they use the bathroom.
● Wash the clothes and towels that you use while you are ill separately from the rest of your laundry.
● Clean the surfaces in your homes with antibacterial cleaner or bleach.
● Wash your hands before preparing or serving any meals.
● Stay at home when you are sick.
What To Do If You Get The Flu
● Make sure your stay hydrated. Dehydration is the biggest reason why people end up in hospitals. People do not realize how quickly they can become dehydrated. Dehydration can be life-threatening for people with health problems and for older adults. Without treatment, dehydration can affect your organs. Even if you feel sick or have been vomiting, suck on ice chips or take small sips of clear liquids often. Slowly increase the amount of clear liquids you drink.
● When you feel hungry, begin eating foods that are soft and bland such as bananas, clear soups, potatoes and applesauce. Do not have dairy products, alcohol, sugary drinks or drinks with caffeine until you feel better.
● Rest as much as possible. When you begin to feel better, slowly start to do more each day.
Seeking Medical Help
● If you develop flu-like symptoms or think you have the flu, seek medical advice. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. For some people, symptoms may also include vomiting and diarrhea. Always contact your primary care physician should you have any concerns.
● Contact your caregiver or physician if you are not urinating as much as you usually do; you have a fever; you continue to vomit or have diarrhea, even after treatment; or if your mouth or eyes are dry.
● If you are living in an assisted living community, do not hesitate to contact the nurse or another staff member.
The flu is a serious contagious disease, especially for seniors. Complications can lead to hospitalizations and death.
More information about the 2015-2016 Flu Season can be found on the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2015-2016.htm
Jo Ellen Bleavins serves as Gardant’s Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
All affordable assisted living communities managed by Gardant Management Solutions are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“Gardant Management Solutions is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.