Older adults are at increased risk for complications from the flu, which is highly contagious and is spread by coughing and contact. The Area Agency on Aging encourages seniors and those who work around older adults or who spend time with older loved ones to take steps to prevent getting and spreading the flu.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, aches and tiredness. Flu is caused by a virus and can cause mild to severe illness. In some cases, it can lead to death. Flu symptoms may come on quickly and include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Follow these guidelines from the Ohio Department of Aging to minimize your risk of getting and spreading the flu:
- Get a flu shot. Early vaccination offers the best protection against the flu, but a shot any time during flu season will provide benefits. The annual flu shot is covered by Medicare Part B with no copay for adults age 65 or older. Ask your health care provider about a higher-dose vaccine specifically designed for older adults. If a higher-dose vaccine is not available from your health care provider or pharmacy, get the regular-dose shot instead. Click here for more information about why adults 65 and older need a flu shot.
- Maintain good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, manage stress, and be as physically active as is appropriate for you. Drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritional foods. Check out our wellness programs calendar and join one of our programs to help improve your healthy habits.
- Wash your hands. Scrubbing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds can kill most of the flu viruses your hands encounter. When you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow and then wash any affected skin immediately.
- Limit your contact. Avoid contact with people who may be ill with the flu, as well as surfaces they may have touched. Likewise, if you feel you may have the flu, limit the time you spend with others until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of medicine. Call ahead to places like doctor’s offices, nursing homes, and senior centers to see if they have special visitation restrictions for those who have flu-like symptoms.
If you get the flu, proper care can lessen symptoms and decrease the time you are ill. It will also lessen the time you are able to infect others. Stay at home and rest. Drink plenty of liquids to replace fluids lost through fever and sweating. Talk to your health care provider about medicines you can take to manage your symptoms and how they may interact with other medicines you take.