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Simple Steps to Avoid Dangers of the Flu for Older Adults


Sunday, November 3, 2019 12:00:00 PM

- Home Instead Senior Care urges families to take preventative measures to avoid illness, hospitalization. -

It's the time of year everyone dreads: flu season. Each year in Canada, more than 12,000 people are hospitalized due to the flu according to Public Health Canada. People over the age of 65 are at greater risk for these complications, in this age group it is estimated that 125 to 228 per 100,000 healthy persons make up flu-related hospitalizations, and mortality rates increase with age.

"In addition to fever and respiratory symptoms, older adults are at an increased risk for complications such as heart attack or stroke and hospitalization from the flu virus," said Lakelyn Hogan, gerontologist with Home Instead Senior Care. "Home Instead CAREGivers see firsthand how vulnerable older adults are to the flu virus and the critical role prevention plays in avoiding the dangers of flu season."

To help reduce the chance of loved ones contracting the flu and ending up in the hospital this winter, Home Instead recommends the following:

- Make sure your loved one receives a flu vaccine. The best time to get a flu shot is before flu season is in full swing. The vaccine should not be limited to just older adults. Caregivers and family members should be vaccinated to stay healthy and protect older loved ones.

- Take daily preventative measures. It might sound simple but washing your hands and avoiding those who are sick can go a long way. The Canadian Red Cross lists seven healthy habits to stop germs, including touching your eyes, nose or mouth and sanitizing properly.

- Encourage physical activity. Moderate exercise boosts the immune system and could reduce the risk of a cold, according to Harvard Health. Even in frigid winter temperatures, activities such as a walk at a community recreation center or simple strength training exercises at home using household items and body weight can boost immunity.

- Pay attention to the signs and symptoms. Frequently check in on loved ones. Pay close attention to symptoms and changes in appearance or demeanor. Encourage regular doctor visits to help keep minor symptoms from turning into more serious issues. It's important to know all symptoms of the flu and get treatment as soon as possible.

- Take extra precautions to prevent hospitalizations. Simple steps, such as acknowledging symptoms of illness when they first appear, reducing risks of falls around the home and maintaining a healthy diet can all have a substantial impact on protecting older adults from hospitalization and further infection.

For more information on staying healthy this flu season, visit www.preventseniorhospitalizations.ca.