Did you know that six out of 10 flu-related hospital stays in the United States are attributed to those 65 and older? Older adults and their caregivers should know that 90 percent of flu-related deaths occur in the senior population and that a flu shot consideration should be in your family’s plan.
Influenza is more than a bad cold. Influenza is a severe respiratory infection that can lead to hospitalization, pneumonia and even death. The flu does affect all age groups, but the senior population is more vulnerable.
No matter how healthy or youthful we feel, our immune system weakens with age, leaving us at greater risk for the flu, which is why vaccination is recommended.
Having a Chronic Disease Increases the Risk of Flu-Related Death
Chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, COPD or diabetes, also raise the risk of influenza-related death in older patients. And, unfortunately, those underlying chronic conditions are more common in the older population, as well. Studies show that 91 percent of the 65 and older population has at least one underlying condition and 76 percent of the senior population has two or more chronic health conditions.
Adults over 65 have two options for influenza vaccination to help protect against the flu. The traditional flu shot, as well as a higher dose flu shot designed specifically for this age group. Some studies show that the age-related decline in the immune system may affect the body’s response to vaccination. Therefore, the higher dose flu shot prompts the body’s immune system to produce more antibodies against the flu virus.
Both vaccine options are covered by Medicare Part B with no copays.
Flu Shots Protect You and Prevent the Spread of Flu to Others
As flu season approaches, in addition to the flu vaccine, there are other prevention steps:
1. Wash your hands frequently.
2. Cough into the crook of your arm; cover sneezes and wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
4. Avoid touching your face or rubbing your eyes.
5. Avoid crowds during the flu season.
6. Eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.
For more information to determine if a flu shot is right for you and your family, talk to your health care professional and visit the website for the National Council on Aging.