Recently you cannot turn on the radio or TV without hearing about “The Flu”.  The media is focused on this serious health issue, as they should be.

Most media attention has been centered around young people and the working public.  However, our focus needs to be on the clients we service, our long-term care communities.

Flu seasons vary in severity, but in recent years it is estimated that between 71%-85% of seasonal flu related deaths have occurred in those 65 years of age and older.  We can be proactive in helping prevent the flu severity in our communities.  Here are some ways to help:

1-All residents in the community and all health care professionals should get the flu shot.  And it is NOT too late.  The CDC reports that we still have several more weeks to go, so if you have not had a shot, go get one.

2-Practice good health habits such as covering your cough or sneeze, wash your hands often, and if possible, avoid people that are sick.

3-Encourage pneumonia vaccines for our long term community residents.  People 65 years and older should be up to date on their pneumonia vaccines.  Have them speak with their doctors to see if they are up to date.

4- If you or one of your resident’s experience flu-like symptoms (cough, runny or stuffy nose, fever, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue) seek medical attention quickly.  There are antiviral medications that can help lessen the severity of the flu, and perhaps prevent further complications.

The flu is a very serious matter this year, and particularly so in our patient population.  In order to prevent worsening chronic health conditions or developing serious complications, get vaccinated, practice good infection control habits, and see your doctor if flu-like symptoms develop.