In a flu season that is expected to be the worst in a decade, the 39.6 million Americans aged 65 years or older are among some of its most-likely victims. In just a few months, there have already been 17 flu fatalities among older people in Connecticut and North Carolina alone.
So as an older person, what can you do to avoid the flu this year? According to Michael Bogaisky, M.D., assistant professor in the geriatrics division of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, there are several flu prevention measures an older person should take.
While Dr. Bogaisky recommended older people take basic precautions like washing their hands, avoiding touching their mouth and eyes and getting a vaccination, he also said older people should be wary of potential flu spreaders, like their grandchildren, or caregivers.
“Grandchildren are the biggest risk for older people … children are notorious spreader of the flus because they tend to cough and not cover their mouths and be less hygienic,” said Dr. Bogaisky.
It is also imperative for all caregivers to get flu shots, and take take time off if they are feeling sick.
“For elderly people who aren’t getting out much, their main exposure might be their caregivers,” said Dr. Bogaisky. “If [a caregiver is] getting sick … [they] should get someone to step in for [them], if possible.”
As a doctor in a hospital which is “overflowing” with flu victims, Dr. Bogaisky stressed this final tip.
“If youre starting to feel very sick, please call your doctor. This can be serious.”