Influenza strikes certain groups hardest. As a caregiver to an elderly parent, you know that your parent is in one of those groups. It is important to take precautions as the flu season arrives to protect your parent. To help ensure you and your parent are prepared for whatever the flu season brings, here is what you need to know.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Parent?
Getting your parent vaccinated for flu is not enough to protect him or her. The timing of the vaccination matters. Although it is important to get the vaccination early in the season, you have to be careful not to get it too early. If you do, your parent's immunity could start to wear off before the end of the season is reached. Your parent's primary care physician can help pinpoint the exact time he or she should have the vaccine.
You also need to be consistent in having your parent vaccinated. Some people only get vaccinations in alternating years because they believe that their immunity will last that long. What they might not realize is that each year's vaccination is designed to address the strain of the virus that is affecting people that particular year. What might have worked in the last year, might not be effective in the next year.
In addition to taking your parent for his or her vaccine, you also need to avoid crowded places with him or her until the flu season has passed. The flu virus is spread more easily in tight spaces. If you have to take your parent into crowded areas, ensure he or she has been vaccinated first.
What If You Suspect Your Parent Has the Flu?
In the event that your parent starts to show symptoms of the flu, it is imperative that you have him or her examined by the primary care physician immediately. If left untreated, the disease can lead to the development of other health problems, including pneumonia.
Throughout the flu season, you should be on the lookout for signs, such as fever, aches and pains, runny nose, and fatigue. Your parent might also complain of digestive problems.
It is important to note that your parent can still get the flu even though he or she received the vaccine. The vaccine takes a week or two before its potential protection is fully realized. If your parent is exposed to the virus during that period, he or she can still get sick. Therefore, you need to be vigilant for signs of the illness. For more information, see a website such as Rural Health Services Consortium Inc.