It’s Flu Season – Take a Shot at Staying Well

Flu Season a Good Time to Make Sure Your Vaccines are Up-to-Date

Each year, it is estimated that between 12,000 and 56,000 Americans will die of the flu. Those numbers are staggering, especially when you consider that the flu is largely preventable. Flu vaccine is safe, effective and available. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends an annual flu shot for all healthy individuals six months and older, including pregnant women.

Older adults are particularly vulnerable to serious side effects from the flu and other vaccine-preventable illnesses. For example, those 60 and over are at increased risk of developing shingles, a painful skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox in children. Even those who have had chicken pox as a child and those who have had shingles in the past can benefit from receiving the shingles vaccine, which is administered as one single shot and is effective for up to five years.

Adults 65 and over are also encouraged to get a pneumococcal vaccine to prevent infection with the streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium. This infection may cause pneumonia, blood infections, middle ear infections and bacterial meningitis, and the effects can be more severe in older populations. Speak to your healthcare provider about whether you should have a pneumococcal vaccine this year.

Whooping cough was once a deadly illness that declined sharply once children began being routinely vaccinated against it. However, in recent years there has been a resurgence of this serious illness. Experts believe that immunity fades over time. Therefore, the CDC recommends that adults over the age of 19 receive a booster dose of Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough), with additional booster doses given every ten years thereafter. This is especially important for grandparents and other adults who spend time around babies and young children.

Flu season is the perfect time to check in with your healthcare provider and make sure that you are up-to-date with all recommended vaccines. With a busy holiday season ahead, nobody wants to be laid low with a vaccine-preventable illness.

Stay well!

You are in the hospital! Now what?

Nurse Helping Senior Woman To Walk

You are in the hospital! Now what?

You find yourself or your loved one in the hospital. It’s emotional and overwhelming. So what is the first thing you do?

First, make sure that you have a written record including your current diagnosis, any medications/supplements you take (including name, specific dosage, when you take it, how long you have been taking it).

Next, make sure that you are asking the right questions. These include:

  • What tests are being given?
  • What can these tests tell you/me?
  • What medications are being given now?
  • What are these medications for specifically?
  • Have any pre-hospitalization medications been discontinued?
  • Am I being officially admitted into the hospital?
  • What is my diagnosis?
  • Will you contact my primary care physician?

Immediately upon admission to the hospital, you and your caregivers should begin planning for your discharge.

Your safe and healthy discharge should be on your care team’s minds the moment you’re admitted. You don’t want any surprises. You should have input and understanding of your health goals. Yes, you want to get the heck out of the hospital! Make sure you are on track to leave and understand all of the steps required for you to make a full recovery.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, CONSIDER A PATIENT ADVOCATE

An advocate can help you in a variety of ways…

  • Help you understand complicated medical jargon
  • Help you make sense of your insurance coverage and your financial responsibility
  • Help you navigate the medical maze – diagnostic testing, treatment options
  • Help you transition to the next level of care – long or short-term rehabilitation, skilled nursing facility, home care
  • Act as your advocate, looking out for you and your best interests

There is so much more to do and know but this is to get you started and thinking. A professional healthcare coordinator and advocate can ensure that you cover all the bases.