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Why Your Elderly Loved One Should Get a Flu Shot

Many people prevent influenza every year. The ones who are at highest risk of complications are often very young children or elderly people with compromised immune systems or other chronic health conditions. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of at-home care Anchorage families trust, has put together a list of reasons why your senior loved one may want to consider getting a flu shot.

Flu Symptoms Can Be Dangerous

The symptoms that occur due to influenza infection can overwhelm and even kill susceptible seniors. The only way for your loved one to prevent these symptoms is to prevent the infection itself. Flu shots strengthen the body’s ability to fight off influenza.

Influenza Vaccines Work

Getting an annual flu shot is the best protection against your loved one getting infected. Though it is not 100 percent effective, the vaccine has saved more human lives than any other medicine. For most people, not getting a flu shot equals limited or no protection against influenza viral strains.

New Senior Vaccines Are Stronger

The latest senior vaccines have been made stronger because the elderly often have weaker immune system responses. These newer vaccines provoke stronger immune protection against the current year’s predicted viral strains.

The Elderly Cannot Get the Flu from an Inactivated Vaccine

The vaccines typically used for the elderly are injections of the inactivated virus type, which make it impossible to get infected. In the unlikely event a doctor chooses to use a live attenuated vaccine (a weakened live flu virus vaccine in nasal spray form) on your loved one, it is possible for him or her to get flu complications. Just remember injections are inactive viruses and nasal spray vaccines are live weakened viruses.

Flu Shots Can Prevent Hospitalizations and Long Recovery Times

A bout of influenza in the elderly can lead to serious respiratory complications, diarrhea, high fever, dehydration, and other symptoms that require hospital care. Older people also typically have much longer recovery times for serious viral infections, such as influenza. A 2004 study by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project reported that, though the elderly represented only 13 percent of the population, they accounted for 48 percent of all hospitalizations for influenza.

A flu vaccination is just one way to boost a senior’s health. If you have additional questions on ways to promote your loved one’s health, reach out to Home Care Assistance. All of our caregivers are trained in the Balanced Care Method, an evidence-based program that encourages healthier living for seniors through diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors. We also offer specialized Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s care for Anchorage seniors who need more extensive assistance. For more information and to schedule a free consultation, call one of our qualified Care Managers at (907) 770-0907 today.