Health

Your age has an affect on how the flu affects you

Protecting the elderly from the Flu

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - There are now 46 flu-related deaths in Idaho so far this season. Of those 46, four were in South East Idaho's District 6 and all four were over the age of 50. The elderly are at a greater risk of the flu.

"As you get older and have other co-morbidities and co-illnesses, such as heart failure and diabetes," Todd Bagwell M.D., an Infectious Disease Specialist, said. "Sometimes its just advanced age, you are just more susceptible from complications from the flu."

Severe and fierce, those are two words that medical experts have called this year's flu season. It is looking to be the deadliest one Idaho has had in years.

In fact, in a new study published by the New England Journal of Medicine this week, says that the older you are- the more at risk you are to suffer a heart attack if you have the flu.

"Sometimes it's just the frail elderly person, that has heart failure and this is sort of the thing that tips them over into more severe heart failure symptoms," says Bagwell.

At Parkwood Meadows Assisted Living they are taking serious precautions to make sure their residents are safe from the flu.

"Its so much easier for them to get it and it is worse- than me or you," Kathryn Gosseli, the Health Service director at Parkwood Meadows Assisted Living said. "So it is very important to try to keep them safe and let them know how to keep themselves safe."

Parkwood Meadows publishes a monthly newsletter with tips to prevent the flu.

They list things off like:

  • Avoiding close contact with those who are sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth.
  • Clean your hands regularly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. 

They also keep hand sanitizers nearby every room, and recommend visitors not come by if they're sick and encourage residents to stay inside their rooms if they feel unwell.

As well, residents always let staff know if they see anything... suspicious. 

"If somebody coughs, I'll guarantee they come tell me somebody's coughing and I have to go and check it out," said Gosseli.

Their mission to keeping influenza out of the building has been successful so far.

"So far we've had just a few little colds, but we haven't had the flu or pneumonia in the building," Gosseli said. "Thank goodness and knock on wood."

Of course, besides hand washing and keeping your distance, doctors encourage getting the flu vaccine. 

"It's actually the best tool we have right now and it does offer some benefits," said Bagwell.

Doctors recommend that anyone over the age of six months get the flu shot. It is still not too late, even if you've had the flu. You should still get one.

Pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions, are also susceptible to the flu.


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