The domino effect of the flu in seniors

The flu may appear to be a minor setback or a nuisance at most. But for older adults aged 65 and above, it can be a life-threatening disease with the potential to significantly impact their independence.

Although most people will recover fully from influenza infection in 7 to 10 days, influenza can lead to severe disease, complications, or both, including hospitalization and death. Influenza is the most common vaccine preventable disease leading to hospitalization and death in adults.

Influenza can take away independent living from older adults. An extended period of bed rest or a single hospitalization (due to flu or in general) can have a devastating impact on an older adult’s ability to live independently. Studies have found that as many as 1/3 of older adults leave hospitals with a significant loss of ability to carry out their activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing or eating.  Many older adults do not recover their normal function. This is the domino effect of the flu in Seniors.

In Canada, the flu season normally runs from November to April. What can you do now to support your immune system and help fight infections?  A healthy lifestyle, that includes physical activity, is one way.  The influenza vaccine, also known as the flu shot, is another way to reduce risk and severity of the flu. In 2022, the flu shot was 36% effective at preventing the dominant flu strain1.

Along with taking the usual precautions like regularly washing hands and avoiding close content with people who are sick – talk to your doctor about the higher dose flu vaccine for older adults to ensure you have the best protection possible this flu season.

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Supported by a grant from Sanofi Pasteur.

  1. National Influenza Annual Report, Canada, 2021–2022: A brief, late influenza epidemic. CCDR: Volume 48-10, October 2022: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Public Health, CCDR 48(10)

Rapport annuel national sur la grippe, Canada, 2021–2022 : une épidémie de grippe brève et tardive. https://www.canada.ca/fr/sante-publique/services/rapports-publications/releve-maladies-transmissibles-canada-rmtc/numero-mensuel/2022-48/numero-10-octobre-2022.html

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