The flu season is in full swing, but that doesn’t mean you have to join the party. At Senior Lifestyle, we know that a bout of influenza is not only miserable with its hallmark symptoms of fever, body aches, cough, sore throat and fatigue, it’s also dangerous for seniors, young children, and anyone with a compromised immune system. The flu can worsen existing chronic conditions such as asthma, COPD, and chronic congestive heart failure. While complications of the flu can happen to anyone, the risk is higher for these groups, so it is critical to avoid infection and remain vigilant during flu season to prevent exposure to the flu.
Flu shots are the first line of defense against seasonal flu, while good hygiene and common sense play a part in avoiding the flu as well. At Senior Lifestyle, our goal is to keep our residents, team members and families as healthy as possible at all times, including flu season, so we’re sharing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Take 3” list of preventive measures, which includes tips to limit the duration and severity of the flu if infection should occur:
- Vaccinate! First and foremost, getting a yearly flu shot is the best bet in preventing the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive the vaccine before the flu season hits their community, ideally before the end of October each year. While no vaccine can prevent every strain of the virus, the yearly vaccine is based on research that indicates which strains are most likely. It is vital that health care workers, those who provide care for infants under 6 months of age, and those at higher risk of complications of the flu be vaccinated.
- Stop Germs. Good handwashing practices are a great defense against the flu. Wash hands often with soap and water. Limit the spread of germs by avoiding touching your nose, eyes and mouth. If you do become ill, stay home! Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and limit your contact with others until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours to avoid spreading the flu.
- Take antiviral flu drugs if your doctor prescribes them. Antiviral medications can limit the duration and severity of the flu. For those at risk of complications of the flu, antiviral medications can mean the difference between a mild illness and a hospital stay. According to the CDC, antiviral drugs work best when started within 48 hours of the start of flu symptoms, but they can still be effective if started later, especially for people at risk of flu complications. Antiviral medications must be prescribed by a doctor.
At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that flu season is no fun, but taking commonsense precautions like vaccinating and handwashing can help you avoid becoming ill. If the flu does hit, be sure to limit your interaction with others until your illness abates, and take antiviral medications if prescribed by your doctor. For more information about what we are doing in our communities to combat this illness, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.