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Here are five of the most critical vaccinations seniors should receive to stay healthy during the upcoming winter and flu season.
The winter season can be a wonderful time. Families gather together, exchange gifts, watch holiday movies, and enjoy delicious feasts.
There’s nothing quite as magical as snuggling up, warm and toasty by a fire when it’s cold outside.
But winter also brings its own set of dangers.
As the temperatures plummet, health concerns for seniors significantly rise. For seniors, something as common as the flu could lead to life-threatening illness without proper care.
A simple injection could be the difference between life and death. Over 5,000 adults die each year due to vaccine-preventable diseases, and seniors are more susceptible to age-related chronic illness and weakened immune systems.
Seniors should stay current with their vaccinations because many of them weren’t vaccinated when they were younger. Even if they were, the chances are that new vaccines have been developed since their last immunization.
Influenza, a virus that infects the nose, throat, and lungs, is widespread during the winter months.
Known more commonly as the flu, Influenza can cause mild to severe illness and sometimes lead to death.
Seniors are more likely to experience extreme symptoms and are at a higher risk of fatality due to their weakened immune systems.
Influenza was the cause of death in more than 12,000 seniors during the flu season. It’s a danger that should not be taken lightly.
Seniors must get the flu vaccine annually, as each year, the vaccine is designed specifically for the most common strain and cuts risk by 40 to 60 percent.
To improve the chances of escaping the flu, seniors should ask their doctor about the senior-specific
According to the CDC, the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine contains four times the amount of antigen in regular flu shots, and a 2014 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that older adults who had this shot were 24 percent less likely to catch the flu than those who received the standard vaccine.
Tetanus / Diphtheria – Pertussis (Tdap)
This vaccine is generally given as one injection. It’s recommended that everyone get the tetanus/diphtheria vaccine every ten years, regardless of age.
This vaccine also protects seniors against whooping cough (pertussis), a highly contagious respiratory disease.
Seniors should take special care to prevent diseases that affect their lungs. As seniors age, their bones change shape and become weaker.
These changes cause the rib cage to contract so that their lungs can no longer expand as much when breathing in.
Already at a disadvantage, seniors can’t afford to contract an illness that decreases their breathing ability.
Pneumonia causes 50,000 deaths each year in the United States, and seniors are more likely to contract it due to their weakened immune systems.
Pneumonia is extremely dangerous to seniors since it causes inflammation and a build-up of fluid in the lungs.
And, as you read above, senior’s lung capacity is already decreased due to age.
The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) is effective against the 23 most common bacteria strains that cause pneumonia.
Shingles, or herpes zoster, occurs when the chickenpox virus, dormant in almost all adults who had chickenpox during childhood, reactivates later in life.
The condition causes a blistering, painful rash.
The chances of contracting shingles increases with age.
About half of all shingles cases are in adults 60 or older, and the possibility of getting shingles increases drastically in seniors age 70 and older.
Not only are seniors more at risk for the disease, but the complications are more dangerous.
Shingles can lead to long-term health problems, including hearing and vision loss, peripheral motor neuropathy, and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).
The Zoster vaccine will help prevent or minimize an outbreak of this painful, contagious rash by about 50 percent.
Even those who have already experienced an outbreak of shingles can, and should, get vaccinated to help prevent any future occurrences.
This vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. The CDC recommends that adults born after 1956 get the vaccination.
Since the vaccine was developed in 1957, most people born after that time have already received the vaccine and are immune.
The disease is a serious illness that can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, and even death.
The MMR vaccine a one-time vaccination, so seniors who received it earlier in life are still effectively covered. Anyone unsure as to their MMR status should speak to a doctor, though.
Additional Health Tips for Senior Care
Preventive measures go beyond vaccinations. Below are a few things seniors can do on a daily basis to keep themselves happy and healthy during the coming winter months.
1. Eat Healthy – Seniors should be more rigid about their diet, consuming healthy foods that boost their immune systems, such as spinach, broccoli, citrus fruits, and green tea.
2. Exercise (if able) Daily – An active lifestyle is beneficial in numerous ways. It can help ward off heart disease and increase mobility. If it’s too cold to take a walk outside, consider a slow walk on the treadmill.
3. Socialize – It’s not only a senior’s physical health that needs attention during the winter months.
To keep seniors mentally healthy during the short days and cooler temperatures, they need to socialize.
Seeing loved ones and visiting with friends can help fight off seasonal depression.
4. Safety Precautions – Last but not least, it’s vital to keep pesky germs away.
Seniors should take extra care to wash their hands, disinfect household items, and get enough sleep to decrease their chances of contracting a cold or virus.
Vaccinations are a crucial part of senior care and should never be taken lightly.
(mm) Five of the Most Important Senior VaccinesA simple vaccine can give a senior more time with their loved ones. It can mean the difference between spending Christmas with their family inside a cozy home filled with food and laughter or spending it sick, lying in a hospital bed.