influenza complications

Far from solely sniffles and a cough, the flu can hit the elderly hard. With a vulnerable immune system, individuals over age 65 are particularly susceptible to influenza complications, which can be quite serious. As we come into flu season, Hearts at Home In-Home Care, and our team in elder care in Overland Park wants to help you, together with the seniors you love, be prepared for – and protected against – influenza. Contact us today to learn how we can help you care for your loved ones.

Signs and Symptoms

While colds are rampant around this time of year as well, there are several 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 frequently includes:

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

Senior loved ones displaying these signs or symptoms should see the physician as soon as possible; an anti-viral medication may help to reduce the severe nature and timeframe of the flu if taken in the first 48 hours immediately after symptoms begin.


70% of hospitalizations and 85% of deaths from influenza take place in people ages 65 and older, in many cases from the result of flu-related complications, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Make sure to seek immediate medical attention for a senior exhibiting the following symptoms:

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

The flu may also bring about sinus and ear infections, swelling of the brain, heart, and muscles, and may exacerbate pre-existing conditions including asthma.


As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and thankfully, a successful strategy for preventing the flu is available and highly recommended for seniors: a high-dose version of the flu vaccine. September is the ideal time for you to make sure the seniors in your life get their flu vaccines, to guarantee the maximum degree of protection when flu season gets going (October through May).

Additional preventative measures include:

  • Keep up a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular physical exercise, sensible dietary choices, and reduced stress
  • Wash hands routinely and keep hands away from the face
  • Steer clear of crowds of people and high-traffic areas during flu season
  • Keep the home environment clean and sanitized

As one of the top-rated agencies in elder care Overland Park, Hearts at Home In-Home Care can help keep senior loved ones safe and healthy in many ways as well! We’re readily available to provide transportation for seniors to get their flu shots, attend doctor appointments, prepare healthy meals, assist with housecleaning, and much more.

Reach out via our online contact form or call us at 913-440-4209 for a free of charge in-home consultation in Overland Park or one of our surrounding communities, and discover a safer, healthier and more enjoyable lifestyle for the seniors in your life!