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Home Care Winter Tips 1: Why Should You Take the Flu Vaccine?

By Peter DiMaria

If your loved ones in Suffield, Tolland, Enfield or Longmeadow chose to age at home, independently, with or without the help of an in-home care agency like Home Helpers Home Care, winter is the time of the year to take extra precautions in relation to their health and safety.

The NOAA (Nacional Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has just released its outlook for the winter and it doesn’t look good for New England: contrary to the past year, we should brace for a colder, snowy season. Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center alerts on their website that “winter is just up ahead and it’s a good time to prepare for typical winter hazards, such as extreme cold and snowstorms. Regardless of the outlook, there is always some chance for extreme winter weather, so prepare now for what might come later this winter.”

In the following blog posts, I will discuss measures you can take to make your loved ones’ environment safer, healthier and secure, so during the cold months. Now that we already had our first snow, temperatures are plunging and we moved our clocks backward, it is the time to check a lot of things and take some action.

The first thing you should do right now to prepare for winter is to make sure your loved ones take their flu shots and keep an eye on them paying attention to respiratory tract symptoms of flu

Per the CDC (Center for disease Control), people 65 years and older are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu when compared with young, healthy adults. In recent years, the CDC estimates that between 71 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older and between 54 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group.

Flu shots won’t protect someone 100%. The efficiency of the vaccine varies, from year to year. However, it has been proven that vaccination will significantly decrease the chances of someone getting ill from the flu and its complications, particularly in that age group.

Because the vaccine doesn’t offer complete immunization, other preventive measures are also important, to stay healthy during flu season:

-             Practice good health habits including covering coughs, washing hands often, using a hand sanitizer, and avoiding contact with people who are sick;

-             Seek medical advice quickly if flu symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, nasal constipation or a constantly running nose are present. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. A medical evaluation could determine if a treatment with antiviral drugs is needed and, if so, it's very important that the treatment starts early to treat flu and prevent opportunistic diseases;

-             People who are 65 years and older should also be up to date with pneumococcal vaccination to protect against pneumococcal diseases, such as pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections. Pneumococcal pneumonia is an example of a serious flu-related complication that can cause death.

-             Ask for help. Hopefully, these measures will help your loved ones to stay healthy during winter and flu season. However, if you don’t have the time to look after them on a constant basis, it is OK to ask for help. From a few hours a day to 24/7 care, we are here to fulfill your home care needs and keep your loved ones healthy and safe.

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