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Why the Flu Shot is Especially Important This Year

Monday , August 31 , 2020

Why the Flu Shot is Especially Important This Year

This autumn, doctors and healthcare systems will be dealing with two circulating viruses: the novel coronavirus and influenza.

It’s fair to say that flu season is going to look a lot different as the country struggles to control a coronavirus pandemic that has already killed more than 191,000 people.

Many Americans are reluctant to visit a doctor’s office or even to walk into a pharmacy for fear of being exposed to germs – but by getting the flu shot, you can effectively help doctors take one problem off the table.

What is Influenza?

Although sometimes thought of as “just a bad cold,” the flu kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. every year. Often, the very young, the elderly, and those with underlying conditions are the most vulnerable.

Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue. In more serious cases, severe dehydration, chest pressure, and shortness of breath may occur.

When coupled with the effects of Covid-19, experts say the flu could be more dangerous than ever.

A Flu Vaccine is the Best Protection Against Flu 

The power of the flu vaccine is twofold.

According to the Henry Ford Health System, if enough young, healthy people get vaccinated, they can help protect high-risk groups through something called “herd immunity.” In layman’s terms, the more people that get the flu shot, the less likely the virus is to be transmitted to others.

For those that are high-risk themselves, the flu shot is even more important. The CDC says this is especially true for adults aged 65 and older, who account for most hospitalizations and deaths from the flu each year. Because of immune system changes as we age, older adults are far more likely to experience severe flu complications compared with a younger population – and a flu shot provides the best protection.

When Should I Get My Flu Shot?

Advertising has already begun and most pharmacies already have their flu vaccines in stock, however it’s not necessary to rush out and get your shot just yet. Generally, influenza viruses start circulating in mid- to late October, but don’t reach their peak until later in the winter.

Because it takes about two weeks to build up antibodies after receiving a vaccine, the CDC recommends that older adults get the shot by the end of October.

How Effective is the Flu Shot?

Flu vaccines are developed anew each year because influenza viruses mutate. Because of this, the flu shot ranges in effectiveness each year, depending on how well scientists matched the circulating strain. Last year’s shot, for example, was estimated to be about 45% effective in preventing the flu overall.

It isn’t yet know how effective this year’s flu vaccine will be, however with people practicing social distancing and wearing masks, flu cases are expected to be fewer overall.

It is important to note, as well, that even if you still get the flu, your illness is likely to be less lengthy and severe if you have received the vaccine beforehand.

Bottom Line

Flu shots help protect you against getting the flu and make you less likely to spread it to others. By staying healthy, you’ll help keep hospitals and medical facilities from becoming overwhelmed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Posted in: Health

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The Power of the Senior Vote

Wednesday , August 19 , 2020

The Power of the Senior Vote

This year, on November 3, 2020, Americans will be heading out in droves to vote for the new leader of our country. And seniors are no exception.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the turnout of voters over age 45 has significantly outpaced that of younger Americans during the last ten presidential elections. For example, in 2016, 71 percent of Americans over 65 voted, compared with 46 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds.

Even more importantly, the number of voters who fall into the category of “older” keeps rising. In fact, by 2030, all Baby Boomers will be age 65 or older.

For the candidates, that means that they must do well with the senior vote if they are going to do well in the general election.

Beyond the Presidency

This year, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate, and the office of President of the United States will be up for grabs. Thirteen state and territorial governorships will also be contested – although, we won’t vote for a new governor in New Jersey until 2021.

Top issues run the gamut from the economy to crime, with several topics that are of interest to older adults. Among them are health care, the coronavirus outbreak, social security, and nutrition support.

Why is the Senior Vote so Important?

First, every vote counts in a close election. And right now, it’s a tight race. No matter which side you’re on, your vote will make a difference.

Second, despite older adults being a remarkably diverse population overall, they’re often able to come together to defend common interests by donating money, contacting local officials, and (most importantly) voting.

One of the most critical issues is Social Security. Often considered “untouchable” third-rail issues, Medicare and Social Security are more and more often being threatened. With 53% of married couples and 74% of unmarried persons relying on Social Security for the bulk of their income, many seniors have chosen to take an active role in the political process to protect their interests.

This, of course, does not mean that all seniors vote the same way and vote lockstep with one another. People do not suddenly abandon their lifelong beliefs just because they have reached a certain age. But seniors do take more of an active role in politics than their younger counterparts – and politicians are paying attention.

How to Vote in New Jersey

This November 3rd, voting in New Jersey will primarily take place through mail in ballot. All active registered voters will receive a prepaid, return postage vote-by-mail ballot from their County Clerk. Ballots will be mailed out by October 5.

Voters can choose to:

  • Mail in their ballot
  • Return their ballot through a secure drop box
  • Hand their ballot directly to a poll worker on election day or
  • Vote in person

All ballots being returned via mail must be postmarked by November 3rd. Any voter who chooses to cast their vote in person must do so via provisional ballot.

Not sure if you’re registered to vote? Fill out this simple form on Vote America and make your voice heard this November!

Posted in: Aging

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Telemedicine: A Safer Option for Seniors

Monday , July 27 , 2020

Telemedicine: A Safer Option for Seniors

Providing care for your older loved one can be complex and challenging during the best of times. Supporting those same loved ones during the covid-19 pandemic requires extra precautions to keep them safe.

Research shows that adults aged 60 and older, especially those with preexisting conditions, such as heart or lung disease, are more likely to have a severe coronavirus infection than other groups.

Because of this, many older adults are choosing to forgo regular doctor appointments. For example, someone with diabetes may opt to postpone a regular follow-up visit to avoid potential exposure to coronavirus. But while covid-19 is dangerous, so is ignoring everyday medical needs.

What’s the solution? Telemedicine.

Telemedicine has become the norm for many people, both young and old, in the last few months. It’s a cost-effective healthcare solution that allows for independence in the aging population while still keeping them safe.

Keep reading for more information:

What is Telehealth?

A telehealth appointment is simply a regular doctor visit done over the phone or on a computer. The doctor’s office will provide your older loved one with a special phone number or link that they can use to connect with their physician privately, in a safe and secure environment.

Their doctor can address concerns, make suggestions, and even prescribe medication over the call.

The benefits are many. Besides the convenience of “seeing” a doctor from the comfort of their own home, telemedicine appointments don’t require any transportation, and they reduce exposure to covid-19 and other viruses.

Types of Telehealth 

There are three main types of telemedicine available for seniors. These are the options:

  • Synchronous telehealth involves real-time communication. A phone call or two-way video conferencing is used to communicate from afar.
  • Asynchronous telehealth is the a store-and-forward process, similar to email. Using a secure platform, the patient can share medical data with their doctor who will review it and respond later.
  • Remote patient monitoring allows for the tracking of vital signs using sensors, cameras, and other devices.

 Making the Most of a Visit

Just like in-person doctor visits, your older loved one should go to their telemedicine appointment prepared. Here are a few tips:

  • Make a list of the issues they want to address so nothing gets missed. This is especially important during telehealth visits, where people are more likely to lose their train of thought.
  • Keep track of symptoms and when they started/if they’ve changed. A brief record can help the doctor figure out what is causing symptoms.
  • Have any medical equipment that the doctor has prescribed on hand.
  • Take and share photos of obvious symptoms, such as bites, moles, or rashes.
  • Call from a quiet place so the doctor is able to hear and understand.
  • Don’t forget to address routine medical issues, like medication refills or paperwork required by the insurer.

Sometimes Face-to-Face is Best

Despite the ongoing pandemic, sometimes an office visit is the best option. For urgent or complex issues, such as dehydration from vomiting, the doctor’s office is still open for business.

Remember, an emergency is still an emergency: Sometimes the doctor needs to examine a patient and check vital signs to make an accurate diagnosis. Likewise, telemedicine doesn’t work for preventative procedures such as colonoscopies or mammograms.

Bottom line? In most instances, telemedicine offers a convenient and safe way to receive healthcare. When so much of regular life has been upended, it’s a great, stress-free way to connect with medical professionals.

Posted in: Health

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