Healthcare providers protecting senior citizens from the flu

MINOT, N.D.- Senior citizens are one of the more vulnerable population groups when it comes to the flu.

“Their immune system is not as robust or strong as that of a regular healthy middle aged adult,” said Trinity Health infectious disease specialist Dr. Casmair Nwaigwe.

The CDC says people over the age of 65 account for between 71 and 85 percent percent of flu-related deaths in the U.S.

“They should do all the things we talked about, one of which is washing their hands, try not to bring their hands to their face, use hand sanitizers, avoid crowded environments,” said Nwaigwe.

Some seniors can't avoid crowded environments, though, such as nursing homes.

“It’s just because they’re more susceptible to any kind of illness, so it makes it a little bit harder,” said Ashley Tanner, executive director at Minot Health and Rehab.

This creates an added challenge for care providers.

“We have precautions at every door. We have masks, hand sanitizers and gloves for those who come in and have been around people or in contact with influenza,” said Tanner.

Tanner says the system has worked well so far.

“We've had one incident of the flu, and thank God, we've been fortunate,” said Tanner.

So don't get too upset if you have flu symptoms and are asked not to visit.

“I know it’s very hard, but it’s easier to stay at home, get well, and then come and visit your loved ones when you're healthy, to keep them in the best health,” said Tanner.

Seniors can also get a stronger flu vaccine, which Minot Health and Rehab offers in-house.