Senior woman receiving flu shot

Seniors Can Reduce the Risk of Catching the Flu With a Shot and These Preventative Measures

October marks the beginning of an exciting time at senior living communities across the country with its spooky festivities and fall frills. And while you’re busy deciding where the pumpkin décor is going to go, the weather outside is rapidly changing, leaving behind the heat of summer and welcoming the cooler temperatures of fall. Those drops in temperature also welcome an unwarranted friend: influenza.

Flu season officially starts this month. This virus tends to run its course through May - with December, January and February being the peak times for infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people 65 years and older are at a much higher risk of having serious complications from the flu. An estimated 70 percent to 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in those 65 years and older. Between 54 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations also fit in that age group.

With its impenetrable stamina, the flu can make its rounds through schools, senior living communities, workplaces, households and more not once, not twice, but several times. That’s why Capital Senior Living is making a conscious effort to ensure its residents are ready – and protected – by providing flu shots. The company was lauded in Senior Housing News for being proactive about its flu prevention and response plan for 2017-2018, which has been built upon for this season.

What You Need To Know About The Flu Shot

According to Colleen Honnors, R.N. and the Quality and Clinical Director at Capital Senior Living, prevention is the key. That means getting a flu shot. The CDC notes that receiving the flu shot lowers the risk of catching the flu by 50 percent to 60 percent. If you do come down with the flu and have had the vaccine, it can lessen the severity. Consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions about whether you should get a flu shot.

There are several different types of flu shots available, but the CDC recommends that seniors receive a specialized vaccine that enhances the immune response, giving their bodies an extra kick to fight off the flu.

Getting a flu shot does not give you the flu, but it’s important to know that these vaccines may result in some mild side effects such as pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, headache, muscle aches and malaise.

“Immunity wanes over a year, so annual vaccination is needed to ensure the best possible protection against influenza,” the CDC says.

What Capital Senior Living Is Doing

There are a number of ways we can help you and all of our senior residents help fight off the flu this season, according to Honnors. Some of the things our communities will be doing include:

  • Holding on-site flu shot clinics for residents and staff, with multiple clinics at each community
  • Providing flu shots to all employees at no cost
  • Going through hands-on training with the staff and residents to ensure that everyone is capable of recognizing flu symptoms
  • Implementing a plan for the first indication of flu with staff and residents to contain an outbreak
  • Tracking geographic outbreaks of the virus via the CDC
  • Providing tips on how to beat the flu this season.

Preventative Actions

There are several ways to prevent the flu. Getting the shot is ultimately the best plan of action. However, it is important to be mindful of other things you can do in your daily routines that will keep you happy and healthy in the coming months.

  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is ill.
  • Stay home when you are sick with a cold.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. Invest in some tissues and carry around a personal pack if you’re out and about.
  • Use antimicrobial hand sanitizers.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth until you are completely sanitized.
  • Stay hydrated, get plenty of rest and eat well. Our communities pride themselves on serving healthy, chef-inspired dishes made from fresh ingredients so you get that healthy and hearty dose of goodness.
  • Make sure to keep your apartment clean. Wipe down doorknobs, bathroom faucets and phones, and ensure your linens are washed and dried on a hot setting regularly. Many of our communities offer additional housekeeping and laundry services. 

Symptoms of the Flu

The symptoms of influenza are similar to that of the common cold. But, if you notice these signs appear quickly, chances are high you have caught the flu. Notify your medical provider if you experience any combination of:

  • Fever: An adult has a fever when his or her temperature exceeds 99°F to 99.5°F.
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and body aches including pressure in the abdomen and chest
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Possible vomiting and diarrhea
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return

Keep your spirits high, avoid chances of getting the flu and fight seasonal affective disorder this fall and winter by implementing healthy practices in your everyday life. Wash your hands, stay hydrated and make sure to check your community’s calendar to find out when flu shots will be available.

This website contains information, facts, opinions and recommendations of various individuals and organizations regarding senior care, health, nutrition and exercise. Capital Senior Living and its affiliates, agents and licensors cannot, and do not, guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose of, or otherwise endorse, any opinions or recommendations, nor does Capital Senior Living constitute the giving of medical, health or fitness advice. Users of the website must consult their physicians regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to their conditions.