Elderly and their caregivers should prepare for flu season early

On a day that reminds Nebraskans that winter is coming, the elderly and their caregivers should be mindful of preparing for flu season.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January and February are peak months for the flu season and those at highest risk include those 65 or older and those with health conditions that affect the heart, lung, kidney’s or weaken the immune system.

Dr. Mark Lachs, director of geriatrics at New York-Presbyterian Hospital told Science Daily, “Even when older adults contract the flu after immunization, which can happen, those cases tend to be less severe and of shorter duration.”

Experts suggest getting vaccinated early, but even once the flu season has begun, it’s not too late to get the vaccination. On the CDC’s list of people who should get immunized against the flu are those living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. It’s also important to make sure that if you’re providing care to an elderly person who is high-risk for flu that you get immunized as well.

U.S. Medicine reported that 90 percent of deaths to flu are in the elderly. Marvin Bittner, an associate professor of medicine and medical microbiology at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, told U.S. Medicine, “Last summer, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report showing that over 20,000 people a year die in the U.S. as a result of influenza.”

Bittner also pointed out the significance of the 90 percent statistic involving the elderly and flu given that those over 65 make up only 15 percent of the population.

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