Q. Grandpa George told me he forgot to get his flu shot and said it's too late to get one now. The lack of a flu shot and his forgetfulness worry my siblings and me. I reminded this fiercely independent 84-year-old that since he lives alone on his acreage outside the city and hates to bother us with phone calls, we might not know if he was sick. Since we can't visit him every week, wouldn't a good solution include a flu shot and also finding someone to check on him regularly during the cold-weather months?
Grandpa George should know this: Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it's not too late for those who are vulnerable, including seniors, to get the flu vaccine. The flu hit the United States earlier than usual this season, and it continues to spread across the nation.
Seniors, who are among the most vulnerable to this threat, are warned to take extra precautions because seasonal flu can be serious, even deadly. Ninety percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 and older.
Because seniors' immune systems weaken as they age, they are more susceptible to the flu. There are two options for vaccination: the regular-dose flu shot and the high-dose shot that provides a stronger immune response. Seniors should talk to their health-care providers to decide which one is best. Medicare will cover the flu vaccine once every flu season.
There are other ways to stop the spread of germs:
- Wash the hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage stress, drink lots of fluids, and eat healthy food.
Since Grandpa George could be isolated from others because of location, it is a good idea to have someone check on him and offer help.
For more information about seniors and the flu, visit: