11/09/2014 06:27 EST | Updated 01/09/2015 05:59 EST

Top Tips For Seniors To Avoid Getting the Flu

With flu season around the corner, it's important that seniors take proper precautions. For the younger population, the flu isn't generally dangerous. No one likes having the flu, but younger individuals do not always view the flu as a threat.

Individuals who have a chronic illness or are above the age of 65, should understand the importance of avoiding the flu. When you take the proper precautionary measures, you can avoid further complications. Unfortunately, fatalities are not uncommon within this population during flu season.

Why Seniors are at Risk

During most flu season, it is estimated that 90 per cent of flu related deaths are individuals above the age of 65. When we age, our immune system begins to weaken. For the average individual, the flu will mean skipping out on work, getting plenty of rest, and drinking liquids.

Seniors (and individuals with a weakened immune system), can quickly develop complications due to the flu. These complications range from infections, to bronchitis, to death. If an individual has a pre-existing condition, the flu can make symptoms worse. For example, asthma symptoms can become dangerous.

What You Should Do This Flu Season

The best way to avoid complications is to be cautious. The following tips will provide you with a greater chance of avoiding the flu this season:

Practice Good Health

You can pick-up the flu anywhere. You may be exposed at the grocery store or at work. Then before you know it, you're displaying symptoms of the flu. It's important to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often, especially before meals.

If you know that someone has the flu, simply avoid them. The same is true for visiting. If you or a loved one have the flu, stay away from elderly individuals (or anyone for that matter). You should also cover your mouth when you cough. This will help minimize the spread of the flu virus. You should also avoid rubbing your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Make sure you're getting plenty of rest. When you get enough sleep, you maintain good health and you're able to heal more effectively. You should also eat nutrient-rich foods, providing your body with everything it needs to function at an optimal level. Also, drink plenty of water, allowing your body to flush out any toxins.

Seek Help as Soon as Symptoms Appear

Once symptoms surface, do not ignore them. If you suffer from a chronic condition or you're a senior, do not avoid seeking medical advice. Your flu could very well subside. However, it's better to be safe. A medical professional will be able to assist you further, providing advice and potentially anti-viral medication.

If you experience the following symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor; headaches, fever, chills, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, stuffy nose, and sore throat. It's important to take precautionary measures. If you catch symptoms early, you can more than likely control them. If you wait too long, that is when complications arise.

Get Vaccinated

Within Canada, we have access to the flu vaccine. Although it is recommended for all ages, individuals above 65 are especially encouraged. The vaccine is updated for each season, and immunity tends to subside after a year. So, if you got the vaccination last year, it's recommended that you get it again this year.

Immunity tends to set in after approximately two weeks, which is why you're encouraged to get the shot in October (before the flu season kicks off). Individuals over the age of 65 have the choice between two vaccinations. There's the regular vaccine and then a high-dose vaccine. The high dose vaccine is said to be 24.2 per cent more effective when protecting this age group.

Protect Yourself

You can protect yourself against the flu by practicing good health, getting vaccinated, and being aware of the symptoms. As long as you take precautionary measures and maintain good health, you can avoid complications. Don't let the flu bring your health down this season, take control.


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