Now that winter has arrived, were deep into cold and flu season. While a cold is often just a minor irritant, the flu can be a much more serious problem in older adults. Seniors are at a higher risk than younger people of developing life-threatening complications like pneumonia. Theres no cure for the flu, but there is medication available that could reduce the chances of your aging relative developing complications. Knowing how to tell the difference between a cold and the flu could mean being able to get the older adult the help they need to battle the flu.

Flu Symptoms

One of the reasons people sometimes mistake the flu for a cold is that they both start out with similar symptoms. People with the flu usually have a runny nose and sore throat when their symptoms first start, just like a cold. However, a cold usually develops slowly over a few days while the flu comes on suddenly. In general, having the flu feels much worse than a cold, too. Some additional signs that your older family member has the flu include:

  • A fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. However, sometimes people with the flu dont have a fever.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Chills.
  • Sweating.
  • Headache.
  • A cough that is dry and lasts.
  • Feeling tired and weak.
  • Stuffy nose.
  • Sore throat.

Sometimes people with the flu feel nauseated and vomit. However, that happens more in children than it does in adults.

When to See a Doctor

Most people who get the flu are able to recuperate at home without medical intervention. But, since complications are more likely in seniors, its a good idea to at least call the doctor. It is especially important to contact the doctor if your aging relative has other chronic conditions that further increase the risk, like heart disease or diabetes. In some cases, emergency care may be warranted. Signs that you should seek emergency care for an older adult include:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen that doesn’t go away.
  • Lasting dizziness or confusion.
  • Seizures.
  • Lack of urination.
  • Severe muscle aches.
  • Serious weakness or unsteadiness.
  • A fever or cough that gets better, then returns or gets worse.
  • Additional problems or worsening in existing chronic conditions.

If your aging relative gets the flu, senior care can assist them while they are recovering. A senior care provider can ensure they rest by taking care of the things around the house they may be tempted to get up and do, such as cooking meals or doing the laundry. Senior care providers can also help to prevent dehydration during flu by making certain the older adult drinks plenty of liquids, such as water, juice, and broth. In addition, if the doctor prescribes medicine for the flu, a senior care provider can remind them to take it.

If you or an aging loved one is considering home care in Eagan, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.