In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week, scheduled as December 7-13, we wanted to extend a special reminder to make sure to get your loved ones their annual flu shot. Flu shots are particularly important for the elderly as they are at increased risk for serious health risk posed by the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized from the flu every year. Almost 36,000 of these patients will die. Unfortunately, because of declining immunity and pre-existing health conditions, a disproportionate number of these fatalities are among the elderly.

Because of the ease at which the flu virus is spread,  it is imperative to protect against the illness through vaccination. Most sufferers of the flu are contagious for up to a day before showing any symptoms, making it impossible to simply reduce contact with those people who are sick. Flu “season” runs from early October through the end of February, though in many years cases have been seen to extend into March and even April. Flu symptoms include muscle aches, fatigue, fever, chills, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and sore throats. Some flu strains may cause vomiting and diarrhea but these symptoms are often less severe.

In most adults, the flu can be waited out, but in senior citizens the risk of additional complications make exposure to the flu more serious. Chronic health conditions such as congestive heart failure, COPD, and even diabetes can be exacerbated by the flu and should be monitored closely.

As a senior living facility in Hot Springs, we strive to contain the transmission of the flu virus to a minimum. Because complete containment is rarely possible, especially in group living conditions such as senior living, we implore each of our resident’s families to make the effort to immunize their loved one and to always practice good hygiene techniques in order to protect them at all times.