influenza facts

Far from simply sniffles and a cough, influenza can hit seniors hard. With a vulnerable immune system, individuals over age 65 are particularly at risk of complications from the flu, which could be rather severe. As we enter into flu season, At-Home Care Company, the top Des Moines dementia care provider and senior caregivers throughout the surrounding communities, offers influenza facts to help you and the seniors you care about be prepared for – and protected against – influenza.

Signs and Symptoms

Despite the fact that colds are widespread around this time of year as well, there are some telling differences between the typical cold and the flu. For instance, a cold may cause:

  • Congestion
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Coughing and sore throat

Influenza can also produce these symptoms, but oftentimes includes:

  • Fever, aches, and chills
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headache
  • Discomfort in the chest

Seniors presenting these signs and symptoms should see the physician as soon as possible; an anti-viral medication may help to reduce the severity and length of the flu if utilized in the first 48 hours immediately after symptoms begin.


70% of hospitalizations and 85% of deaths from influenza take place in those ages 65 and older, often from the results of flu-related complications, including bronchitis and pneumonia. Make sure to obtain prompt medical attention for an older adult presenting these symptoms:

  • Bronchitis:
    • Green, yellow, or gray mucous when coughing
    • Fever
    • Chest pain
    • Fatigue and difficulty breathing
  • Pneumonia:
    • Decline in body temperature
    • Nausea/vomiting
    • Confusion/delirium

The flu can also bring about sinus and ear infections, inflammation of the brain, heart, and muscles, and can worsen pre-existing conditions such as asthma.


As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and thankfully, an excellent way of preventing the flu is available and highly recommended for older adults: a high-dose version of the flu vaccine. September is the recommended time for you to make sure the seniors in your life receive their flu vaccines, to ensure the highest amount of protection during flu season (October through May).

Further precautionary measures can include:

  • Keep up a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, sensible nutritional choices, and decreased stress
  • Wash hands regularly and keep hands away from the face
  • Avoid crowds and high-traffic areas during flu season
  • Keep the home environment clean and sanitized

As a leading Des Moines dementia care provider and home of top-rated senior caregivers throughout the surrounding communities, At-Home Care Company can help keep senior loved ones safe and healthy in many ways as well! Our senior helpers in Des Moines and nearby communities are readily available to provide transportation for older adults to get their flu shots, attend doctor appointments, prepare healthy meals, assist with housecleaning, and much more.

Contact us at (515) 292-2650 for a free in-home consultation or talk to our team of senior helpers serving Des Moines and the surrounding communities to find a safer, healthier and more satisfying way of life for the seniors you love!