While the battle against COVID-19 continues, vaccines have been on many people’s minds. Here in Arizona, over 50 percent of residents have received their first COVID shot, and 44 percent are fully vaccinated. Still, even with those rising numbers, the work to protect our communities from infectious disease continues.
Seniors are more likely than other demographic group to experience serious complications from COVID-19. As a result, seniors had early access to the vaccine and many are already fully vaccinated. But even with protection against COVID-19 widely available, there are many more vaccinations of equal importance for seniors. As we pass the apex of summer and start looking towards colder weather, it’s even more crucial to make sure all your vaccinations are up to date.
Important Vaccines For Seniors
The bad news is that seniors are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases. The good news is that Medicare will cover four of the top-priority vaccines widely available to seniors everywhere. Here are the most important ones, how often you need to get them, and why they matter.
Most people battle the flu at least a few times throughout their life, and we all know it’s no fun. But no matter how miserable a bout of the flu can be, it’s easy for older adults to see the risks through the lens of their younger selves: as an inconvenience, but not a severe danger. Unfortunately, between 70 and 85 percent of all flu deaths are estimated to occur in people over the age of 65, as well as the majority of hospitalizations. Studies show that vaccines help protect seniors from the worst consequences of the flu. There are even flu shots specifically designed for older adults, which are more effective during the winter. Because the flu virus mutates very quickly, you should get your flu shot every year.
Hepatitis B affects the liver and spreads through contact with bodily fluids. It can sometimes mimic flu symptoms. However, in chronic cases it may present no symptoms at all and still cause liver damage or death. Because liver function tends to decrease with age, this disease is even more devastating for older adults. The hepatitis B vaccine involves a series of three or four injections over the course of six months.
Pneumococcal disease isn’t as well known as the flu, but it can be just as devastating. It can lead to pneumonia, meningitis, and bacteremia and causes deafness, brain damage, limb loss, and death. Though many people might not have heard about it, pneumococcal disease kills 18,000 older adults each year. With such a grim list of symptoms, it’s probably clear why a pneumococcal vaccination is so important. Seniors should get the pneumonia vaccine about once per year.
Shingles might seem like something you only had to worry about in your childhood, but this extremely unpleasant condition is a risk for seniors as well. Scientists believe that aging can cause a dormant chickenpox virus to reawaken and begin an outbreak of shingles. Though shingles is not itself fatal, it can cause serious side effects like pain, fever, loss of appetite, and additional infections. The CDC recommends that adults over 50 get a two-dose version of the vaccine.
Seniors Are Especially At Risk
Vaccinations are vital for everyone, but for seniors, they can be lifesaving. As mentioned above, even diseases you experienced with only a bit of discomfort when you were younger can be deadly in your later years.
It comes down to a combination of factors. As people get older, their immune system becomes less spry at dealing with external threats. The danger from diseases like the flu usually comes from the risk of complications rather than the illness itself. When infection weakens our bodies, other more serious issues can quickly arise. Other than a weakened immune system, factors such as social isolation, poor diet, and other risk factors further increase a senior’s chance of suffering significant side effects. On top of vaccination, one way to help lessen the risk is by hiring an in-home caregiver.
A caregiver helps seniors stay in top physical health, whether by helping with regular meal preparation or daily exercise, keeping the living space clean, or alleviating social isolation. Being alone creates several other potential dangers for seniors, and an in-home caregiver can help make sure that assistance is always available. Through a combination of staying updated on your vaccines and getting the help you need, it’s easy to face the winter months with confidence and optimism.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.