Medical Alerts for Seniors with Influenza

Medical Alerts for Seniors with Influenza

time icon 5 min read update icon Sept. 28, 2019


There are over three million cases of influenza each year. Influenza, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory virus that can be deadly in the elderly, young children and individuals with impaired immunity.

Influenza Overview

The influenza virus infects the nose, throat and lungs. Symptoms usually start suddenly. Influenza is a viral infection, so antibiotics offer no cure. Outbreaks usually happen in the fall and winter months. Every year, there are different strains of influenza. Once contracted, it typically takes seven to ten days before symptoms start to subside. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting an influenza vaccination every year to help prevent the flu.

Influenza Impairment

Influenza can range from mild to severe. Each individual reacts to the flu differently. Elderly people usually have weaker immune systems due to natural aging and a variety of other age-related health issues. These factors can make the symptoms of influenza more severe for seniors. Flu symptoms may impair a senior’s ability to function normally for longer than they would impair a younger person.

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Difficulty breathing
Medical Alert Benefits

Many seniors opt to stay home and not seek medical care at a hospital when they are struck by a bout of influenza. In such circumstances, a senior’s health can take a dramatic turn for the worse. Their temperature can rise, they may have difficulty breathing, weakness could cause a fall, or any variety of emergency situations may happen. In these cases, medical alerts can be used to call for immediate medical assistance. In such a situation, an influenza sufferer may have a hard time reaching a telephone, so medical alerts are highly beneficial.

When influenza strikes, the sufferer may experience a variety of symptoms.

  • Body aches
  • Fever
  • Nasal congestion
  • Chest congestion
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Headache
  • Chills
Safety Without Medical Alerts

Many seniors will face influenza without the convenience of medical alerts. When facing the often-overwhelming symptoms, there are several things that a senior can do to maintain a certain level of safety and to control symptoms so they do not become overpowering.

  • Influenza symptoms: Have an ample supply of medications such as analgesics, throat lozenges, decongestants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and cough medications. Many seniors may also want to ask their physicians about a prescription for an antiviral drug, such as Tamiflu.
  • Congestion and fever: Fever and congestion cause dehydration, so keeping a supply of liquids on hand will help. Fruit juice, soups and hot tea with lemon are all ideal.
  • Nasal congestion: Repeatedly wiping your nose because of nasal congestion can chafe the delicate skin of your nose, lips and mouth. Using petroleum jelly or a vapor rub cream helps reduce redness and discomfort.
  • Physical weakness: Using a cane or walker when you feel too weak to walk can help preventdangerous falls.
  • Emergency contacts: The senior should keep a cell phone near them at all times to call for help. Ideally, there should be a phone located in each room.
Influenza Precautions
  1. Control contagion: If a senior goes into a public place, such as to a doctor’s office, they should wear a face mask to protect other people from possibly contracting the virus. Hand sanitizers and disinfectant sprays should be used to protect any other occupants who share the same household with the infected senior.
  2. Smoking: Flu sufferers should avoid smoking or coming into contact with secondhand smoke, which may make the respiratory symptoms worse.
  3. Antiviral prescription medication: At the first sign of influenza, a senior should notify their physician so they can begin a regime of antiviral medication. This can help reduce the likelihood of the flu becoming severe or deadly.
Influenza Medical Alerts Conclusion

Influenza is a severe virus that afflicts the sufferer’s respiratory system. Medical alerts are beneficial for any senior who opts to treat their flu symptoms at home. If, at some point, the senior becomes too sick to cope, they can instantly summon first responders for medical assistance. Influenza should never be taken lightly because the CDC estimates that between 3,300 and 49,000 people die each year as a result of influenza.

Kimberly Sharpe - Senior Advisor

Kimberly is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.