You and the Flu

Last week we had our annual flu shot clinic at our community.  I’ll admit that I never started getting a flu shot until I went to work in the assisted living sector.  I had experience with kidney stones, sinus infections, broken bones, and surgeries.  But no flu.  But the first year I got the flu shot….NO…I didn’t get the flu, but my husband and daughter…both (who did not get their flu shot that year) got the flu and it was rough.   But as rough as it can be on school-aged children and middle-aged adults…it can be much more serious for the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.  Here are a few helpful reminders to consider as we approach flu season.

Get your Flu shots!

In our communities’ we offer flu shots annually to protect our residents and staff.  It is something that we take very seriously as it can be a dangerous situation for an elderly person to get the flu.  Nowadays you have options!  You can get your shot with your family physician or many pharmacies have flu shots available onsite.   Remember that when you get the flu shot, it takes about two weeks for it to begin working.  So, you want to get your shots ahead of the flu season curve.

Sniffles?  See you next time!

What may sound rude, is just smart advice.  If you don’t feel well or you have a child that doesn’t feel good…find another time to visit an assisted living community.  What we can shake off easily may prove a huge obstacle for a senior citizen to bounce back.  The CDC provides this list of flu symptoms to watch for:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, plan to visit another time when you are well.

Clean up Your Act!

The CDC states that:

People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.  That is why hand washing is key!

It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. However, use caution with these type sanitizers and children.

So, use good judgment this flu season and do your part to protect yourself and others.  We love to have visitors in our communities.  But if you are sick, we will just plan to see you when you are well!  When you see our healthy visit reminder signs posted at your local Great Oaks Management Communities, just know it is part of our mission for seniors – to be happy and healthy.



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


            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.

Why Flu Vaccines Matter for Seniors


Flu Basics

Influenza, commonly know as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by influenza viruses.  Common symptoms include: chills, fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headaches, couging, weakness/fatigue, and general discomfort.  Though it is often confused with the common cold, influenza is actually a severe disease.

How Does It Spread?

Influenza is usually transmitted through the air by coughs or sneezes, creating aerosols carrying the virus.  People that have the flu can spread it to others as far as 6 feet away.  People who have the flu become contagious 1 day before symptoms start to show and can be contagious up to 7 days after becoming sick.  Symptoms begin 1 to 4 days after infection.  That means that you can pass the flu to someone else before you know you are evens sick.  

Seniors and the Flu

People 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu.  It is estimated that 90% of seasonal flu-related deaths and between 50%-60% of flu-related hospitalizations in the US happen to people 65 years and older.  This is due to a drop in immune defenses that come with age.

Actions to Take

The best action is to get a flu vaccination.  It is extrememly important for people 65 years and older due to a higher risk for complications from influenza.  There are two flu shots available- a regular dose and new vaccine that contains a higher dose, designed with seniors in mind.  Studies have indicated that the higher dose vaccine was 24.2% more effective in preventing flu in seniors.

Other actions include practicing good health habits which include: covering coughs, washing hands often, and avoiding people who are sick.  If you develop flu symptoms, please seek medical advice quickly to determine whether treatment is needed.

For more information on Influenza, click here.

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