Don’t Go Viral

I have to admit I was one of them.  You know the ones that boasted they had NEVER had the flu shot.  Now we would probably have to call my Mom to fact check me on this.  But to date, I have NEVER had the flu either.  But my mind was completely changed on the flu shot in 2010.  Why you ask?  Well, my entire household with the exception of yours truly got hit hard by the nasty flu bug.  How did I dodge the bullet?  Well, that was the first year that I took the shot as recommended by my boss since I had just started working in an assisted living.  The thought of what it meant to get an elderly person sick really made me realize I must do my part.  AND… I believe wholeheartedly the flu shot kept me WELL!!  My family was bedridden for days and I never had a sniffle.  With this week (October 16-22, 2016) being Infection Control Week, I thought it would be a great time to give a few tips to remember in reference to visiting assisted living communities during flu season.

When I missed the flu by getting the flu shot that made me and my family believers in the flu shot.  I have heard nearly every excuse in the book about why folks don’t want to get it.  But hear me out.  Senior citizens have reduced immune systems so they can’t mess around.  Actually, we have already had our flu shot clinic in our community.  The reason being is TIP NUMBER ONE:

  1. According to the CDC getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu.

The BEST way people!  So all those skeptics need to realize that the flu shot is your best defense.

The CDC goes on to say that flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from the flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.

Another important thing to keep in mind during flu season is if you are sick, please avoid visiting assisted living communities.  Sure we want visitors…but sickness that can be passed on is never a welcome guest.  Please come back when you are well!  We would love to see you then.  Honestly, the flu can be life threatening to seniors.  Sure, it’s no picnic for anyone.  But for seniors, it can be quite serious!  So remember TIP NUMBER TWO:

  1. If you have any flu-like symptoms, please take care of your health and come back to visit senior communities when you are well.   

senior-wash-hands

Also, it is extremely important in the infection control process to WASH YOUR HANDS!  Listen Mama was right when she told you to keep your hands clean and keep them to yourself!  During flu season I have even observed folks at church exchange a friendly hello instead of a handshake.  Poor manners…NO!  Good hygiene. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that between 50 and 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations every year are attributed to seniors and the over-65 demographic accounts for 90 percent of flu-related deaths annually.  So it is extremely important to do your part in the infection control process.  So follow TIP NUMBER THREE:

  1. Keep hands clean, avoid touching your face and mouth and also cover that cough with a tissue.

senior-sneeze

The CDC gives these infection control suggestions.  “Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.  Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.”  Following these tips will help better protect you and your loved ones during this flu season.  When it comes to the flu, this is definitely not an area where we want to go viral.

For more information, visit http://www.flu.gov

Vital Vaccines: What Vaccines Do I Really Need To Take?

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            Since the introduction of vaccines for Polio in 1955, Americans have been keenly aware of the ability of vaccines to prevent serious illnesses.  Many of us had vaccines for Polio and other diseases as children, but as adults we don’t have to worry about vaccines, right? As an adult 60 or older, what vaccines are vital to prevent illness and promote good health?  There are three vital vaccines for adults age 60 and older; Influenza, Pneumonia and Shingles.

Influenza vaccine or the Flu vaccine as it is more commonly known is manufactured annually based on the previous year’s dominate Flu strains and scientist best estimate of the types of Flu that will be prevalent in the coming winter.  Flu vaccines are typically available from September to April and are vital to adults with chronic health problems or a weak immune system.  Annual Flu shots are normally available in early fall and should be taken by October if possible.  It is important to take the Flu vaccine before the Flu starts occurring in your community since it takes about 2 weeks after receiving the shot before our bodies can develop immunity to the Flu.

Pneumonia kills 60,000 individuals annually in the US and it is recommended by the CDC that adults 64 and older who have chronic health conditions discuss the pneumonia vaccine with their health care provider.  The pneumonia vaccine is highly effective in preventing pneumonia.  If you get your first pneumonia vaccine before age 65, it is recommended that you need a second or booster vaccine at age 65.

Many of us had Chicken Pox as children and it is a common childhood illness.  If we did have Chicken Pox as a child, we are at risk of developing Shingles as an older adult.  The CDC recommends that adults age 60 and older, who had Chicken Pox as children, take the Herpes Zoster vaccine.  The older we are, the more severely we are affected by Shingles and the more severe the symptoms.  The Herpes Zoster vaccine is a one-time vaccine which reduces the chance of developing Shingles.