Could the Flu Sideline Your Parents This Winter?
In Canada, influenza (or seasonal flu) contributes to an average of 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths each year? Seniors specifically accounted for up to 70 per cent of these flu-related hospitalizations and up to 91 per cent of flu-related deaths between 2013 and 2018.
Seasonal flu can put seniors at risk of losing their independence – a hospital stay can wreak havoc on their life and the lives of those around them. As many as one-third leave the hospital with a reduced ability to carry out their daily activities.
In some cases, prolonged hospital stays even require seniors to have additional rehab care or move to a long-term care home. A survey by the Canadian Association for Retired Persons shows almost half of the 10,000 respondents said their biggest fear of aging was loss of independence.
Prior to contracting influenza, Mike Leone, 84, was active and enjoyed socializing with friends. “The hardest part for me is not being able to live a normal life,” says Mike. “I can’t go to the senior club every day as I used to, and I don’t feel like myself anymore.”
Fortunately, there are things seniors can do to protect themselves:
- Get vaccinated with the higher-dose influenza (flu) vaccine.
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids.
- Regularly wash hands and avoid close contact with people who have the flu.
- Maintain a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Stay active and engage in daily physical activity.
“As we age, our immune systems weaken naturally. That’s why seniors should get the higher dose vaccine, which is 24 per cent more effective than the standard dose flu vaccine,” says Dr. Ronald Grossman, Respirologist. “Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent influenza and its complications.”
For more information on the flu in seniors, talk to your healthcare provider. The higher dose vaccine is now covered for all adults 65+ in Ontario. To find out if the vaccine is covered in your province, contact your public health officials and check out fluzone.ca.
Vaccination does not provide 100% protection and does not treat influenza and / or its complications.