The holiday season is in full swing, but so is cold and flu season. With most health attention over the past two years dedicated to COVID-19, it’s easy to overlook the ordinary influenza virus. For seniors, this lack of attention can pose serious problems. Due to several compounding risk factors, seniors are in far greater danger for serious side effects from the flu than any other age group. That being said, we’re in the midst of a strange new world this flu season due to COVID-19 and pandemic precautions. During National Influenza Vaccination Week, let’s take a moment to examine how best to stay protected from the flu and what to expect from the winter months this year.
COVID-19 vs. the Flu
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of expectations about this year’s flu season . Despite high levels of testing, instances of the flu were unusually low during the 2020-2021 season. In fact, only 1,675 (0.2 percent) of 818,939 respiratory specimens tested by U.S. clinical laboratories were positive for influenza last flu season, compared to a peak of 30.3 percent in the three seasons before that. The CDC estimates that measures taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19, such as masking, isolating, and favoring outdoor gatherings, also helped dramatically reduce the flu’s spread. However, both diseases are still a severe problem.
COVID-19 and the influenza virus have many things in common. Both are respiratory diseases that can result in hospitalization or death for certain people, especially for older and immunocompromised people. The symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar. Both usually involve fever, coughing, fatigue, chills, a runny nose, and muscle aches. They spread in similar ways, primarily through moisture droplets shed through breathing or talking. And lastly, we can prevent both these diseases in similar ways: through masking, distancing, and above all, getting and influenza vaccination.
Catching the flu can be especially nerve-wracking these days, even if you end up with a mild case. Due to the similarities between the flu and COVID-19, you could have a real scare once the symptoms set in. While COVID-19 might be a significant concern for seniors today, that doesn’t make the flu any less of a worry. That’s why it’s essential to take every precaution to avoid getting sick each year.
Benefits of the Influenza Vaccine
Getting your flu shot makes a huge difference. Though the vaccine’s efficacy depends on how successfully immunologists predict the influenza strain that year, the vaccine can reduce your need for medical intervention by up to 60 percent. The vaccine doesn’t just help protect against the flu; it also improves your prognosis if you do end up catching the virus. Once you get an influenza vaccination, you’ll have far milder symptoms if you do catch the flu than a person who isn’t vaccinated. Vaccinated people are far less likely to need ICU care and are up to 79 percent less likely to die from the flu.
With so many benefits, it’s a good thing that it’s so easy to get vaccinated. Most major companies with a pharmacy, from CVS to Walmart, offer walk-in flu vaccine appointments. You can also get vaccinated when you see your primary provider. All in all, the most important thing is simply to get the shot, no matter where or how. Don’t roll the dice with your health: get vaccinated.
An In-Home Caregiver Keeps You Safe
Living with the COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated that, while vaccines can mean the difference between life and death, they also aren’t a total fix-all. Even vaccinated people can still contract an illness, whether it’s COVID-19 or the flu. And while those symptoms will likely be far milder, they’re still not any fun. While the hope is that getting your flu (or COVID) shot will prevent you from developing any symptoms at all, breakthrough cases can still put you out of commission while you recover.
Offering Help While You’re Ill
At times like those, it can help to have an in-home caregiver at hand. When you’re sick and tired and need rest, it makes it even harder to deal with the difficult tasks of daily living like cooking, cleaning, and tending to your household. A caregiver can provide you with nutritious meals, whether it’s chicken noodle soup or some other favorite remedy. They can also handle any cleaning or chores so you can focus on resting up. From watering plants to walking a pup, a caregiver is ready to step in when you need them. It can be a huge relief to know there’s someone to take care of you when you’re ill. Especially if you want to be sure someone can monitor you for worsening symptoms and get help if necessary.
Making it Easier to Social Distance
And of course, the best way to avoid getting sick is to avoid public places during the height of flu season. A caregiver can run errands, drive you to the doctor, and help you avoid people who might be sick. In-home caregivers are available on flexible schedules so you can get the help you need when you need it. Your influenza vaccination is the first line of protection against influenza; an in-home caregiver is the second line of defense.
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.