Turn on any newscast in America, put on a talk radio station or open your local newspaper, and there’s one word sure to come up: Ebola.
Plenty of news surrounding the virus is valid. There has been an epidemic in West Africa, with thousands of deaths. There has also been a small handful of cases in the United States. But there’s also been plenty of over-the-top hype—you may have heard various sources claim that the disease can be spread by being on the same plane or subway as someone carrying the virus. Considering Ebola can’t spread through the air, these claims are all highly unlikely, to put it mildly.
But, still, the virus is out there, and has caused a degree of panic across the country. And, seeing as seniors are more at risk for many viruses and diseases, it only makes sense to raise the question: Should older adults be concerned about contracting Ebola?
To put it bluntly, no. At least, not unless they have been in some pretty remarkable circumstances. And there’s certainly no need to worry more about Ebola than other viruses that cause problems each and every year.
Instead of Ebola, Worry About the Flu
While Ebola has received most of the news coverage, it’s once again flu season, which should be a red flag for seniors and their caregivers. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 90 percent of America’s seasonal flu-related deaths occur in people 65 and older. But there are simple ways to help combat these problems:
- Get a flu shot.
- Follow basic health and hygiene habits, such as washing your hands and covering your coughs.
- If you exhibit any flu symptoms, get to a doctor.
As we’ve previously discussed on the blog, the CDC is also strongly encouraging family caregivers to get flu shots. Seniors are more susceptible to getting the flu than most segments of the population, making it even more important for those who care for older adults to get the vaccination, protecting themselves and those for whom they care.
By following these steps, seniors and their caregivers can take precautions against a disease that poses a major threat—and can ignore some of the news regarding a disease which poses virtually no threat.