As we all prepare for the holiday season and also for the beginning of a new year, it is important to keep in mind that flu season is in full swing and we need to make sure that our loved ones get the flu vaccine in order to keep them safe.
The holidays are often a time of celebration, family and excitement. But for individuals living with dementia and the caregivers who support them, the holidays can present new challenges. For an individual living with dementia, the holidays can present physical, mental and emotional factors that may disrupt their day-to-day activities.
People ages 65 and older are at greater risk of getting serious complications from the flu, because their immune defenses weaken with age. Recent studies have shown that between 71% and 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people ages 65 and older.
Here’s Tips To Help Your Senior Parent/Grandparent Prepare For The Flu Season:
If you help care for older adults, then you can start preparing for the flu season. The tips will help you protect your loved one from a preventable sickness.
- Find out where they can get the flu shot. You can use the tool (www.cdc.gov/flu) to find a location in your area.
- Be sure to plan ahead for their flu shot. It usually takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to set in and for protection to begin.
- Talk with their primary physician about making sure they are up to date with their pneumococcal vaccination. This vaccine helps to protect against pneumococcal disease, such as pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infections.
- Get the flu vaccine for yourself and your entire family.
Flu Vaccinations Available to Seniors over 65 Years Old:
• The “high dose vaccine” is designed for people 65 and older and contains 4 times the amount of antigen as the standard flu shot. The shot is associated with a stronger immune response following vaccination. Results from a clinical trial showed that those who received the high dose vaccine had 24% fewer influenza infections compared to those who received the standard vaccine. (information source: www.clearcare.com)
• The adjuvanted flu vaccine, Fluad, is made with MF59 adjuvant which is designed to help create a stronger immune response to vaccination. In a Canadian observational study, Fluad was 63% more effective than regular-dose unadjuvanted flu shots. This vaccine will be available for the first time in the U.S. this year. Both vaccines can result in more mild side effects than compared to the standard-dose vaccine. Mild side effects can include pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, headache, muscle ache and malaise. Any flu vaccine is recommended by the CDC for people over age 65. (information source: www.clearcare.com)
Here’s What Seniors Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine
No matter where you live or your financial/educational background, getting vaccinated is one of the best things that you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community from COVID-19. When it comes to seniors and people with ongoing conditions like heart disease/diabetes, the COVID-19 vaccine can prevent severe illness or death from the coronavirus, including the Delta variant which is known to be highly contagious and infectious. As of right now, there are not many options when it comes to which vaccine you can take, however taking the vaccine available is the best choice. In the future more options may become available as vaccine supplies increase in the coming months and years.
After being vaccinated it is important to remember that although the COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at reducing illness, hospitalization & even death, people who are vaccinated can be asymptomatic carriers and unknowingly infect people they come into contact with, especially those who are have not been vaccinated.
Be sure that you and your senior loved one continue to follow all safety precautions and guidelines set out by the local & state authorities and CDC, which include:
- Wear a face mask at all times in public and when around people not in your household
- Keep 6 feet apart from people not in your household
- Wash hands frequently
- Avoid crowds
Whether or not you decide to have your aging loved one take the COVID-19 vaccine or the Flu vaccine, it’s important to speak with their doctor and learn about all the available options, benefits and side effects. Their health and wellness is always top priority. Speaking with their doctor will bring clarity to any questions you both may have and put help but your loved one at ease before getting their vaccinations.