It is flu season

Watch for symptoms of the flu. They include fever, body aches, chills, sore throat, headache, runny nose, cough, and fatigue.

Why the flu shot is important. Influenza (flu) is a highly contagious illness caused by viruses. People over age 65 are most at risk of having severe complications. Older adults represent up to 90% of those who die from the flu, especially seniors with heart disease or COPD, and those who live in a group setting.

To prevent catching the flu,

  • get vaccinated each year, ideally by October. Vaccines are remade yearly because the viruses change.
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick, especially anyone coughing or sneezing.
  • wash your hands often. Use an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are not available.
  • use tissue to cover a cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue away. Alternatively, use the upper part of your sleeve.
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

These precautions are just as important for you as for your older family member.

If you or your loved one has symptoms,

  • call the doctor. An antiviral drug may be advised. These work best if taken soon after symptoms begin. Ask the doctor what symptoms require going to the ER.
  • stay home (except to get medical care). Limit contact with others until symptom-free for 24 hours.
  • sleep, and drink fluids. Broth, water, juice, and other noncaffeinated drinks are best.
  • get extra support. Have someone stop by daily. Good self-care is difficult when illness strikes. That fresh perspective and extra pair of hands are important.

If you are around someone who is sick, limit face-to-face time and wash your hands immediately after touching the person, their tissues, or clothing.