Surviving Another Flu Season

Your head starts pounding. You have a sore throat. And your body is so achy, you feel like you got hit by a train. Oh no, you think, am I coming down with the flu? 

No one wants to get the flu. And while it’s not nearly as deadly as it was a century ago (an especially deadly strain killed 50 million people worldwide in 1918), the flu is still a risk to many, especially to people over the age of 65. 

Even during the relatively tame 2021-2022 flu season, 74,181 people were hospitalized and an estimated 5,000 died in the United States. Typically, 70-90% of seasonal flu-related deaths occur in people aged 65 years and older. So we are by no means out of danger from the influenza virus, especially as we age.

Ways to protect ourselves from the influenza virus

  • Get the flu shot every year – Because the flu virus changes every year, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) creates a specially-formulated vaccine to target the strains that they believe will be most active that year. Some years the prediction is better than others, so the flu shot has gotten a bad reputation for not being as effective as people think it ought to be. However, it is still our best chance to prevent ourselves and our loved ones from getting the flu. There are special versions of the shot designed for people over the age of 65, like one that provides a higher dose of the vaccine that contains up to 4 times the amount of antigen as a regular flu shot. Ask your doctor about your options to best protect against the virus, and plan to get your flu vaccine by the end of October every year.
  • Be considerate of others – If you’re sick, do your best to prevent the spread of the virus to others by staying home and covering your mouth when coughing. Though you may be in great health and can get over the flu in a week, think about others who are more susceptible and will suffer through serious complications if they contract the illness.
  • Wash your hands – This goes without saying but is so important it requires its own category: wash your hands often! It is the simplest way to prevent the spread of all germs, including the influenza virus.
  • Clean and Disinfect – In addition to thoroughly washing your hands several times throughout the day, it is also a good idea to clean and disinfect surfaces like light switches, door knobs, and other commonly-used surfaces, especially in your workplace and home. You might feel strange going around your office spraying down door knobs, but just remember that the flu virus can survive on surfaces for 24 to 48 hours to be passed on to others. You’ll be doing a good deed not only for yourself but for all of your coworkers and family members, too.
  • Don’t touch your face – If you’ve washed your hands often and disinfected surfaces in your home and workplace, you’re well on your way to staying healthy this flu season. But one of the best habits to prevent illness is keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. This keeps the virus away from your face, thereby preventing the virus from entering your body.

Flu season happens every year, and for many people, staying healthy can be a matter of life or death. Get the flu vaccine and practice healthy habits, and you’ll be more likely to avoid the flu and other illnesses this season.

If you’re worried about the flu, Home Instead® can help. Our Care Professionals can transport you or your loved ones to doctors appointments to get the flu shot. They can even help you practice healthy habits like hand washing and maintaining a clean home. We can help you do everything you’d do for your loved one to give you peace of mind and, hopefully, a healthy winter season.