Saturday, October 31, 2015

When a Loved One with Dementia Loses Their Spouse

Americans are increasingly challenged by the need to communicate difficult information to aging family members with dementia. According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as 5 million of the 43 million Americans age 65 and older may have Alzheimer’s disease, and another 1.8 million people have some other form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will escalate rapidly in coming years as baby boomers age. In the absence of medical breakthroughs to stop or slow the disease, by 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may more than triple, from 5 million to as many as 16 million.
The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) released the results of a 2014 survey to help American families who face one of the most difficult of these challenges. ALCA (formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers) polled 288 professional aging life care professionals, also known as geriatric care managers, from across the country, asking them to identify the most effective strategies for helping a loved one with dementia cope with the loss of their spouse. The top six strategies identified by the aging experts are:
  1. Remember there are many different stages of dementia. Your loved one’s capacity for understanding, coping and grieving can be very different depending on their stage of dementia. (Identified by 96% of survey respondents)
  2. If your loved one’s response to reminiscing about their spouse is positive, share old photos and memories. (88%)
  3. Make sure the surviving spouse is not socially isolated. Schedule visitors on a regular basis and help them keep up with any normal social routines they have. (85%)
  4. Reassure them there are people who care about them and will care for them. (84%)
  5. Don’t rush big changes. It may make sense for them at some point to move to a facility, or closer to family. But, if possible, give them time to adapt so there aren’t too many major life changes at once. (81%)
  6. If they choose to be included in mourning rituals for their spouse, make sure there is someone overseeing this so if the situation becomes too stressful they can leave. (78%)
“With the rising rates of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, families are increasingly confronted with this difficult challenge,” said ALCA past-president Emily Saltz. “Our survey shows that knowing your loved one’s stage of dementia and respecting individual differences are key.”
Many of the aging life care professionals surveyed expressed strong views about the need for tailoring your response to the individual, both in terms of their stage of dementia and their personality. Some individual comments included:
  • “As each person is unique, each person with dementia is unique. Recognize your loved one’s values, personality and culture.”
  • “There are varying types of dementia, some affecting short-term memory more than others and each type has a different appropriate response.”
Other aging life care professionals surveyed by ALCA shared additional tips, including:
  • “Do not underestimate their ability to understand, at an emotional level, what they cannot express verbally.”
  • “Take cues from the affected person. If they are not aware or focused on the loss, do not remind or instigate a conversation about the loss.”
Source: The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, was formed in 1985 to advance dignified care for older adults and their families in the United States. Aging Life Care Professionals have extensive training and experience working with older adults, people with disabilities, and families who need assistance with caregiving issues. They assist families in the search for a suitable nursing home placement or extended care if the need occurs. The practice of Aging Life Care and the role of care providers have captured a national spotlight, as generations of Baby Boomers age in the United States and abroad. For more information or to access a nationwide directory of Aging Life Care Professionals, please

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Protecting Our Bones Throughout Life

Osteoporosis is a painful, often debilitating, disease that causes the bones to become weak and puts us at higher risk of fractures as we grow older. Nutrition plays a big role in bone health, but the sad irony is, once we realize our bones have become brittle and porous, we’ve already passed our optimum years for building bone density.
For this year’s World Osteoporosis Day, held on October 20, experts from the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) released a report that emphasizes the importance of lifelong, age-appropriate nutritional emphasis, from before birth through old age.
Published in the journal Osteoporosis International, the study summarized the latest findings on the bone-protecting nutritional needs of mothers, children, adolescents, adults and seniors. With an emphasis on calcium, vitamin D and protein, the study showed that the goal in childhood and adolescence is to build the best bone mass we can, given our genes. In adulthood, the goal is to avoid premature bone loss. And for seniors, preventing and treating osteoporosis is the focus.
“This new report shows just how important nutrition is for our bone health throughout life,” said Professor Cyrus Cooper, chair of the IOF Committee of Scientific Advisors. “In fact, nutrition plays a key role in the development of a healthy skeleton even before birth. Healthy maternal diets as well as adequate vitamin D levels are associated with greater bone mass in the offspring.”
The study authors reported that many children fail to get enough calcium and vitamin D. Adults, too, may be deficient, and many make lifestyle choices that lead to lower bone density, such as smoking, drinking too much, and being too overweight or underweight. Seniors in particular may be suffering from malnutrition.
We can expect to see more osteoporosis in the near future. Said Professor Bess Dawson Hughes of Tufts University’s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, “The baby boomer generation is aging and, as a result, age-related musculoskeletal diseases are imposing an increasingly costly burden on society and healthcare systems worldwide. This report shows how we can tap the potential of healthy nutrition within a systematic life-course approach to support osteoporosis and fracture prevention.”
The study authors say that improving the diet of seniors, along with exercise and in some cases medication, can reduce the risk of debilitating falls and fractures. They have created a free consumer booklet based on the study findings,  Healthy Nutrition, Healthy Bones, which covers the various life stages and ways older adults can avoid falls and fractures. The booklet is available in nine languages, which you can find here.
Source: IlluminAge AgeWise reporting on materials from the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Choosing a Long-Term Care Facility

An Informed Decision
Are you considering a move to a long-term care facility for yourself, or for your spouse, parent, other family member or friend? If so, you will feel more confident in your choice if you know about your options and what you and your family can expect after the move.
Whether you are considering just one long-term care facility, or are trying to choose from among several facilities, your decision should be an informed one. This means understanding what level of care is needed in your particular situation and making sure the facility you are considering is a good fit.
You might start by using the Nursing Home Compare tool on the website. A geriatric/aging life care manager, hospital discharge planner or social worker can also help with the decision. But nothing takes the place of an in-person visit. Taking the time to visit, observe, and ask questions not only lets you make the best selection, but also prepares you and your family to take full advantage of everything the care facility you select has to offer.
Level of Care
The level or levels of care a facility offers is the first thing to ask about. A person about to be discharged from a hospital and admitted to a nursing facility for a short period of recovery before returning home has one set of medical, therapy, and social needs. A frail or chronically ill person who requires ongoing, around-the-clock nursing and personal care has another set of needs. Someone with severe dementia has yet another. Ask whether the facility you’re looking into offers the level of care appropriate for the situation of you or your loved one.
Paying for Care
Another thing to check on is cost and who will pay. The rates facilities charge their residents vary, and it may be important for you to know which services are covered in a basic daily or monthly rate, and which ones have to be paid for as extras.
Not all facilities participate in Medicare and Medicaid. So, if one of these programs covers you or the person you are helping, it is important to verify that the facility you have in mind is certified to receive that type of payment.
Similarly, a growing number of managed care plans, like HMOs, have payment contracts with particular long-term care facilities. It is worth asking about this, as well. If you have long-term care insurance, check your policy’s payment provisions to see what is covered.
Things to Watch For
Visiting a facility you are considering is always a good idea. While you’re there, these are some of the important things to look for:
Do the residents appear comfortable and well cared for? Are they appropriately dressed and well groomed?
Do the facility’s employees seem knowledgeable and well organized in the tasks they are performing? Are they courteous and attentive to the residents (for example, knowing and using a resident’s name, and knocking before entering a resident’s room)? Are they wearing name tags? Are they groomed appropriately? Do they seem happy and engaged in what they are doing?
Resident Rooms
Are the residents’ rooms clean and comfortable? Do lighting, ventilation, and space seem adequate? Are the bathrooms equipped with non-skid surfaces and grab bars? If rooms are shared by two or more people, is privacy respected as much as possible?
What is the dining room like as a meal is being served? Do things seem calm and organized? Is the food appealing? Is it served hot?
Social Activities
Does the facility offer a variety of activities and outings? Does it keep residents informed and personally active as much as possible? Are calendars, posters, and photographs displayed?
Building and Grounds
Is the facility well maintained? Are there walkways or a courtyard for outdoor visits in good weather? Do stairways and hallways have safety rails?
More Questions to Ask
Many important characteristics of a facility are not immediately apparent. Don’t be reluctant about asking more questions. For example:
Choice of Doctor
Does your regular doctor see patients at this facility? If not, which doctors do?
Admission Agreement
What sort of written contract does the facility use? Ask to see a copy.
Family Involvement
Find out about visits, availability of support groups, and participation in care conferences and care planning.
Survey Results
All long-term care facilities are regularly inspected (“surveyed”) as part of their license renewal or in conjunction with their certification as a participant in Medicare or Medicaid. The facility’s most recent survey results are always available for you to see. Were there any major problems?
Facility Policies and Procedures
What does the facility ask of each resident—its “rules and regulations”? What is the policy on smoking? On noise? On protection of resident belongings?
Long-Term Care Selection Checklist
Here is a checklist you can use as you consider the merits of a particular facility:
  • Services and capabilities match needs
  • Participates in Medicare and/or Medicaid
  • Rates are competitive
  • Residents appear to be well cared for
  • Staff appears to be knowledgeable and dedicated
  • Residents’ rooms are comfortable
  • Residents’ rooms have adequate light and ventilation
  • Activities programs are interesting and varied
  • Meals are appetizing and served in a comfortable setting
  • Building and grounds are well maintained and functional
  • Admission agreement is reasonable and easy to understand
  • Family involvement is encouraged and supported
  • Recent survey results show no major problems
  • Facility policies and procedures protect quality of life
  • Facility policies and procedures protect privacy

Friday, October 16, 2015

Distracted Driving Videos Contain a Laugh … and a Lesson

Distracted driving is a growing cause of automobile accidents in the U.S.  With cars, bikes and pedestrians sharing our congested city streets, and with more vehicles zooming along on our highways, you would think drivers would want to operate at 100 percent attentiveness! And yet, how often do we see a driver furtively (or openly) texting, putting on eye makeup, or eating a messy burger? The problem is so serious that there is now an official government website to address the problem,
If you are guilty of distracted driving, or if you know someone who is, check out these new consumer education videos from Decide to Drive, a joint project between the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. While the short spots might make you laugh, the message they convey is not so humorous: the U.S. Department of Transportation says that close to 500,000 people are killed or injured in distracted-driving crashes each year.
The videos focus on common distractions such as shavingputting on makeupeatingdrinking hot beverages and the all-too-familiar taking a selfie.
Decide to Drive also provides the “wreck-less checklist” of ways to avoid distracted driving:
  1. Put on any accessories you may need, such as sunglasses or Bluetooth earpieces before you start driving.
  2. Adjust seats, head rests, vehicle controls and mirrors. And don’t forget to fasten your seat belt.
  3. Move all reading material away from easy reach. Pre-load mp3 playlist or CDs and adjust volume level so your music does not mask the sounds of emergency sirens.
  4. Enter an address in the navigation system before you depart or review maps and written directions before you drive.
  5. Stop your car in a safe area before attending to a child or a pet, or having an involved discussion.
  6. Driving is not the time to apply makeup, groom, polish your nails, or change clothing.
  7. Do not eat or drink while driving.
  8. Do not text, make a call, take selfies or make vlogs while driving. Just put the phone away.
  9. At all times while operating your vehicle, keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
Source: IlluminAge AgeWise reporting on news release from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (

Monday, October 12, 2015

Learning About Hospice Should Begin Long Before You Are Sick

By Caroline E. Mayer, Kaiser Health News
As a consultant who counsels families on end-of-life care management, Johanna Turner often shares the story of her mother’s final days 21 years ago. Thanks to the skilled and loving care provided by a local hospice, Turner was able to keep her promise to let her mother die in their Oakton, Va., home.
“She had the best of care for five months,” says Turner, a District of Columbia resident. “A hospice licensed practical nurse came first thing in the morning to help change complex dressings, a primary nurse visited several times a week, there was an on-call nurse to help address pain-control questions in the middle of the night, plus a social worker and a chaplain. It took all of us to get through those weeks.”
Still, Turner tells families, she had to bear much of the caregiving, even taking a leave of absence from her job. “I treasured that time, but it was physically and emotionally exhausting. Hospice made it doable, but the truth is, it was still a lot of hard work.”
Some families, she says, may not be able to bear that burden, certainly not without hiring extra help. But, she says, “the hospice gave me the skills and confidence to do what I wanted so badly to do for my mother. I will always be grateful.”
Introduced to the United States in the 1970s, hospice care is becoming an increasingly common treatment. Last year, 1.65 million people received hospice care, up from just more than 1 million in 2004, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. In addition, there were more than 5,500 programs in the U.S. last year, compared to 3,100 in 2000.
Although the growth in hospice programs has given patients and their families more choices than ever, a recent Washington Post investigation into the industry found widespread concerns about the quality of care. The Post cited numerous complaints, noting that although hospices are supposed to provide continuous nursing care to patients whose pain or symptoms are out of control — commonly called “crisis care” — one in seven do not.
Unfortunately, there is no federal rating system — as there is for hospitals and nursing homes — that can help consumers make educated choices about the hospice they select.
For many families, hospice is an unfamiliar concept that prompts fear and questions, including where, why and even when someone should receive hospice care. To help patients and their caregivers, here are some hospice basics:
What Is Hospice Care?
Hospice is not a particular place, like a hospital, but a service that provides end-of-life care and support to the dying and their families, most often in a patient’s home. By signing up for hospice, patients generally agree to stop all disease-fighting treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, although some hospices allow such therapy if it is to help manage symptoms, such as pain or problems breathing.
One of the hospice’s primary goals is to alleviate pain. Through a team of caregivers — doctors, nurses, social workers, grief counselors, spiritual counselors, home health aides and volunteers — the hospice provides comprehensive care, including drugs, medical supplies and equipment. It instructs families on patient care and even provides special services such as physical therapy and psychological counseling.
“If we can manage and alleviate pain, we can help reinvigorate patients to help them accomplish whatever it is they want to do in their remaining days, whether it’s making peace with an estranged sibling, attending the wedding of their grandchild — or just going out to eat or fish,” says Malene Davis, president of Capital Caring, one of the first hospices in the Washington area. It now cares for about 1,200 patients a day.
How Much Care Does Hospice Provide?
Comprehensive care generally does not mean around-the-clock service, although many hospices provide 24/7 care when the patient is in crisis or near death.
“The hospice will teach families how to care for a patient, address their concerns and answer questions, but it does not take over the caregiving,” says Dale Lupu, an associate professor at George Washington University’s Center for Aging, Health & Humanities. “Someone on the hospice staff should be available by phone 24/7 in case there’s a crisis. But for hour-by-hour, day-to-day care, the family has to figure out a way to be involved,” even if it means hiring a private nurse or home health aide.
That’s one reason why hospice care may not be for everyone. “Families have to look within themselves and ask if they are comfortable being part of the dying process,” says Linda Kunkel, director of marketing and business development for Care Options, a Northern Virginia care-management firm. “It can be very gut-wrenching and, for some people, very hard.”
Who Pays For Hospice Care?
Medicare covers most hospices for its beneficiaries. Private insurance plans and HMOs also generally pay for hospice care, but they may have a preferred provider. Check with your insurer before you begin your hospice search.
In some cases, a small co-pay — such as $5 or 5 percent — may be required for medication, inpatient facility care and/or respite care.
Additionally, most hospices offer financial help for families in need. So make sure to discuss any financial concerns in your initial meetings.
If Hospice Is Not A Place, Where Do I Get Hospice Care?
Nearly two-thirds of hospice patients die at their homes, a nursing home or an assisted-living facility.
For patients who can’t be cared for at home — perhaps they live alone or have complications that can be treated only at a health-care facility — some hospices have inpatient facilities in freestanding centers or specially designated sections in hospitals or nursing homes.
Why Would I Want Hospice Care? Can’t My Doctors And Local Hospital Adequately Meet My Needs?
Surprisingly no, hospice experts say.
“The traditional medical approach is cure, cure, cure; but when a person is dying, he or she may need a different approach,” says Linda Adler, head of Pathfinders Medical, a California health-care advocacy firm that helps patients with complicated medical diagnoses. “The patient needs someone who’s willing to move the conversation from finding a cure to having best quality of life in the midst of an illness, someone who’s not afraid to talk about the end of life and provide compassion in the final days. Most physicians aren’t trained to do that.”
Hospice caregivers also have in-depth training and experience in palliative treatments for pain management. “Most doctors are not adequately trained in pain management, and the quality of pain control in hospitals and nursing homes is very uneven,” says Naomi Naierman, who was the president of the American Hospice Foundation before it closed last year.
When Should I Start To Think About Hospice?
Most hospices require an order from the patient’s physician as well as approval from the hospice medical director. Both must certify that the patient has six months or less to live if the illness runs its normal course. However, if a patient outlives that time, he or she can be “recertified” to continue receiving hospice care.
But experts in end-of-life care say most Americans need to start thinking about hospice long before the final six months is near. As the American Cancer Society notes on its website: “One of the problems with hospice is that it’s often not started soon enough. Sometimes, the doctor, patient, or family member will resist hospice because he or she thinks it means you’re ‘giving up,’ or that there’s no hope. This is not true. If you get better or the cancer goes into remission, you can leave hospice and go into active cancer treatment.”
Indeed, hospice experts say many people leave hospice, a situation that the late humorist Art Buchwald made famous when recounting his own discharge from a hospice. Patients can then be readmitted to hospice when their conditions deteriorate again.
J. Donald Schumacher, president of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, says patients should discuss hospice options as early as they are diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease. “Don’t wait for the doctor to begin the conversation. Even if you agree to aggressive therapy, ask what are the plans if you don’t return to your optimum health.”
Are All Hospices The Same?
No; they vary greatly.
An increasing number of hospice organizations are for-profit, a distinct change from the early days of the hospice movement when they were mostly nonprofit. Today, 65 percent of hospice organizations are operated as for-profit companies, up from 34 percent in 2000.
Being a for-profit company is not inherently bad, but many of the complaints about substandard service have been leveled at for-profit hospice firms, The Post investigation found. The Post reported that the typical for-profit spent less on nursing and was less likely to have sent a nurse in a patient’s last days of life.
Still, Adler of Pathfinders Medical says consumers shouldn’t necessarily refuse to use a for-profit concern. “There are bad hospices, just like there are bad doctors” in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, she says. “There are also great hospices in both kinds of groups. That’s why people need to do their homework.”
How Do I Find A Good Hospice?
First, seek recommendations from healthcare providers and specialists such as geriatric care managers. Ask which hospice they would use for themselves or a loved one.
Next, call the recommended hospices and ask questions about the issues that matter most to you, such as:
— How often do their caregivers come to visit? (A nurse’s aide should visit about three times a week and a nurse or doctor once a week, Naierman says.)
— Are their doctors and nurses certified in palliative care?
— Is there crisis care? How fast can a caregiver get to your home in case of a crisis? Will they come at any time, even 3 a.m. Saturday?
— Will the patient’s primary doctor still be involved in the medical care?
— Will a nurse or clinician be in the home when the patient is actively dying? (“The answer should be yes,” Naierman says. “If it is anything but yes, run, don’t walk, away.”)
— Is there an inpatient facility if the patient needs extra care? Is it conveniently located?
— Are there limits on radiation and chemotherapy, even if it’s to control pain? What about IVs, dialysis or blood transfusions?
— How does the hospice handle new health problems that are curable, such as urinary tract infections or pneumonia?
— What is expected from family members? What will they be required to do? Give medicine, including shots? Bathe the patient?
— Is respite care – providing relief and time off for caregivers – offered?
“Having a conversation with the hospice admission people helps you get a feel in advance on how receptive they will be to your needs,” says Naierman, who helped develop 16 key questions to ask a hospice.
Are There Any Other Criteria To Judge The Quality Of A Hospice?
Yes. Here are some details to look for:
— Accreditation status. Three organizations — the Joint Commission, the Accreditation Commission for Health Care and the Community Health Accreditation Program — inspect and approve hospice programs.
“I would always lean toward an accredited program when available because it speaks to a program’s willingness to open itself to review and, hopefully, improvement,” says Lupu, who notes that only 40 percent of hospices are accredited.
— Age and patient load. “Experience — gained over time and gained over a number of cases — usually helps build both individual clinician expertise and organizational/team expertise,” Lupu wrote in a recent post on Pallimed, a blog about hospice and palliative medicine. “Very new and very small hospices are unlikely to have the breadth of experience and the depth of resources to assist with challenging or unusual circumstances.” She suggested that patients should generally lean toward an organization with at least five to 10 years of experience that handles at least 80 patients a day.
— “Live discharge rates,” which is the proportion of people who leave hospice care before dying. A large number of departures may signal that patients were unhappy with care and services. “I’d select a hospice with a live discharge rates in the 10 to 20 percent range,” Lupu says.
Where Can I Go For Additional Help?
There is a lot of information on hospices on the Internet, including:
This article was produced by Kaiser Health News with support from The SCAN Foundation.
Source: Kaiser Health News (, a nonprofit national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Warn Senior Loved Ones About Fake IRS Calls

Your elderly parent receives a threatening phone call, voice mail, email, or official-looking letter that claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The agent says that your loved one owes back taxes, and must pay right away or go to jail.
That can be a frightening moment, and it’s happening to more and more people these days, many of them seniors. But these threats are a scam. The crooks count on their victims acting quickly out of fear, and fear can cloud our judgement. Many victims, if they had time to think about it, would note that the letter is riddled with typos or the caller sounds very unprofessional. The caller might direct them to go to a nearby bank or even pay cash—not something a government agency would do. Yet the scammers also can be pretty sophisticated, using lookalike counterfeit IRS stationary, a phony IRS website, even fake caller ID.
According to the IRS, victims of this scam have lost over $20 million—and many of them are seniors. In order to raise awareness of this fraud so that people won’t be caught by surprise when they are targeted, the IRS is spreading the word about how these scammers operate, and about things the real IRS would never do. Share this information with your loved one.
The IRS will never:
  • Angrily demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
The IRS also reminds consumers that the official IRS website is Taxpayers are urged not to be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS, but ending in .com, .net, .org or other suffixes.
“It is critical that all taxpayers continue to be wary of unsolicited telephone calls from individuals claiming to be IRS employees,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “This scam, which is international in nature, has proven to be the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen. The callers are aggressive, they are relentless and they are ruthless,” he said. “Once they have your attention, they will say anything to con you out of your hard-earned cash,” George added.
If you think you or a loved one is being targeted by an IRS impersonator, you can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at  Forward scam e-mails to And don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails.
Source: IlluminAge AgeWise, reporting on news releases from the Internal Revenue Service. Visit the IRS website to learn more about this and other tax scams.

Friday, October 2, 2015

APFC Home Care Provides Tips on How to Avoid the Flu

Medford, NJ – October 2, 2015 – Flu season is coming and seniors, because of weakened immune systems that come with age, are at greater risk for contracting the flu and having serious complications from it. To help reduce their risk, APFC Home Care is offering some helpful tips to help seniors avoid catching the flu or having serious side effects if they do.
“The vast majority of flu-related deaths occur in the elderly,” says Brett Summerville, Managing Partner at APFC Home Care. “As a company dedicated to the health and well-being of seniors, we wanted to make people aware of what they can do to protect themselves.”
APFC Home Care offers these tips to help seniors stay safe this flu season.
  • Get vaccinated. Nearly everyone agrees that the best way to avoid getting the flu is to get a flu shot as soon as it’s available and no later than October, if possible. Flu vaccines are often updated to protect against new strains, so just because you got a shot last year doesn’t mean you’re safe this year. And while a flu shot doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, if you do, it will most likely lessen the severity of symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick. This can be challenging, but if you see someone with obvious symptoms, avoid them if you can.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. This is one of the most effective ways to avoid spreading the virus. Soap and water are more effective than alcohol-based gels and lotions, so if you have a choice, opt for the former.
  • If you start having symptoms, see your doctor immediately. Your doctor can prescribe medication to ease the effects of the flu and make other recommendations to help protect you.
“With all the heightened awareness and attention on flu prevention, there’s more help for seniors than ever before,” says Summerville. “The important thing is talk to your doctor about your flu risk and follow his or her recommendations to help prevent it.”