Winter is a dangerous time for elders. People over the age of 65 are at increased risk of flu. Older people with pre-existing chronic diseases such as heart failure, diabetes, or with chronic respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD) are particularly vulnerable.
In New York State, where almost 20,000 cases of flu have been reported, Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a public health emergency. Flu has been a big problem throughout the U.S. this year. The 2012-2013 influenza season started early and activity remains high. Last week the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 7.3% of US deaths were caused by pneumonia and flu, a figure just above epidemic threshold.
If your relative has not had a flu shot it is still worth them getting one. Because it is quite late in the flu season you may have to contact more than one flu vaccine provider, pharmacy, health department or local doctor. The CDC have a Flu Vaccine Locator to help you locate your nearest supplier.
Flu spreads through coughs and sneezes and is quick to spread. People in care homes are increased risk because of the close proximity to other residents. If someone with Alzheimer’s gets flu they not only become ill and risk respiratory complications, but are more likely to become increasingly confused during infection.
- Get a flu vaccine
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze to prevent its spread. This can obviously be a problem for people with Alzheimer’s.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Symptoms of Flu include:
- High temperature
- Severe aches and pains in the joints and muscles
- warm, flushed skin and red, watery eyes
- Sore throat
- Dry cough
- Diarrhoea or upset stomach
- Stay home for at least 24 hours after fever unless you need to visit your doctor
- Keep warm and encourage fluids to avoid dehydration
- Take analgesics to lessen muscular aches and pains and reduce temperature.
Seek medical advice if a respitory infection or other side effects occur. Your doctor may prescribe antivirals to reduce the length of time your loved one is ill with flu. They can also relieve some symptoms and help reduce the potential for serious complications.
More Information about Flu:
Published On: January 14, 2013