Flu and Seniors: The Risks and How to Protect Them

senior flu

The ‘flu’ is probably one of the most dreaded words ‘f’ words to hear. I know because when someone in our house starts showing symptoms I quietly whisper to my husband “do you think it’s the flu?’ scared that saying it out loud will make it real.

But we’re fairly young and bounce back, but the seniors in our life are not so lucky.

Seniors and the Flu

As we age our bodies weaken. The fancy name for it is immunosenescence but all it means is that seniors have a lower response to infections and are at a bigger risk of developing the flu. Canadian seniors made up a whopping 67% of hospitalizations in the 2016-2017 flu season. They also made up 88% of the deaths which is a staggering number. Over the years we have relied on the flu shot to keep our family healthy but this same flu shot is 50% less effective on the senior population–leaving them vulnerable to illness and complications.

senior flu

Living With Chronic Conditions

Aging has its benefits but it also comes with its own set of issues. 75% of seniors live with at least one chronic condition. The flu can negatively impact conditions such as diabetes and hypertension and can trigger strokes and heart attacks in the elderly population. The fallout of the flu can impair independence and mobility making simple tasks like bathing or dressing themselves difficult.

Seniors Do So Much

I may have a soft spot in the seniors in my life because they play such an integral part of my success. Whether it be giving sage advice, volunteering their time in the community and watching their grandchildren, or helping when times are tough financially they are a beacon of support in many people’s lives, mine included. You can read more on our beloved ‘Give Back Generation’ here.


There is a Solution

Although the standard flu shot has shown to be 50% less effective on the senior population there is a higher dose flu shot just for them. Compared to the standard flu shot it has shown to be more effective in protecting seniors from the seasonal flu.

Considering the positive financial and health benefits that are associated with ensuring our Canadian senior population stays in tip-top shape there should not be such a delay in raising the standard of care.

For more information on the flu in seniors feel free to talk to your health care practitioner or visit CARP.ca/flu.

This article has been sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur, but the opinions shared are my own.
Aneta Alaei
Aneta Alaei

Aneta is a Toronto-based mom of four that loves a good meal, great company, and learning something new. In her free time, you can find her trying to keep yet another plant alive.

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  1. Donna L.
    October 12, 2017 / 2:29 am

    Good advice.

    October 12, 2017 / 9:57 am

    Great advice on how to protect seniors.

  3. Julie
    October 12, 2017 / 10:29 am

    I worked in a nursing home for 17 years so I am big on getting a flu shot to protect our seniors!

  4. l p
    October 12, 2017 / 11:27 am

    thanks for the reminder.

  5. kristen visser
    October 12, 2017 / 1:41 pm

    you know what, this is something my grandma has to start doing!! she never goes for the flu shot but at her age, and her health not being the greatest, she really needs to get this. She doesn’t go out to often ever since my grandpa passed almost a year ago but she does get a lot of visitors and this time of year till April things are going around and spreading like crazy. Her body can’t handle as much as it used to

  6. Calvin F.
    October 12, 2017 / 2:47 pm

    Thanks, good advice, prevention is key~

  7. Darren Scrubb
    October 13, 2017 / 9:26 am

    Great information concerning people who have to be taken care of properly.

  8. Jonnie
    October 13, 2017 / 10:42 am

    I always remind my parents to get their flu shots and my family gets them as well. I am immuno-compromised myself so I know just how important it is to avoid getting sick in the first place.

  9. Terry Perron
    October 13, 2017 / 11:05 am

    I work in a hospital, ltc care home. It is very important to get the flu shot. We need to keep our seniors safe. Great right up.

  10. Lynda Cook
    October 14, 2017 / 7:53 am

    It’s great to know that there is a higher dose just for the seniors!

  11. LisaM
    October 14, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    My parents worked in high-risk occupations coming in contact with lots of members of the public so we’ve always gotten our flu shots.

  12. nicky
    October 15, 2017 / 2:13 pm

    So important! Thank you for the reminder.

  13. Linda H
    October 16, 2017 / 1:06 pm

    Great reminder for seniors and everyone.

  14. Tammi L.
    October 16, 2017 / 8:27 pm

    I argue with my husband every year about the flu shot, it is so important for people with chronic illnesses or who tend to get sick easy!

  15. October 16, 2017 / 11:26 pm

    I think it’s good that there is a higher dose for seniors who need it to get over the flu.

  16. Linda H
    October 20, 2017 / 7:19 pm

    I never knew there was a higher dose for seniors.

  17. Rosanne Robinson
    October 21, 2017 / 6:56 pm

    I didn’t know that there was a higher dose of the flu shot for Seniors, thanks very much for this helpful information.

  18. erin n
    October 22, 2017 / 4:40 pm

    This is great information. Thank you 🙂 My Nana is in her 90s and I worry about her a lot.

  19. Linda H
    October 23, 2017 / 11:50 am

    Most of the seniors I know are getting the flu shot which helps lower their risk of getting the flu.

  20. AD
    October 23, 2017 / 2:56 pm

    I’m immuno-compromised, so I always get my flu shot; in fact, I got mine today (Alberta Health released them to the public); I always take my grandmother for hers. Thanks for the tips.

  21. Elizabeth Matthiesen
    October 24, 2017 / 11:09 pm

    I am a senior but I didn’t know that there’s a higher dose flu shot just for seniors. I’ll be going for my shot soon and so I’ll see if I can get that one then. Thanks so much for the info. 🙂

  22. Linda H
    October 25, 2017 / 11:00 am

    I will be checking about the higher dose when I go for my flu shot.

  23. Elizabeth Matthiesen
    October 26, 2017 / 11:06 pm

    I’ve just read an article that claimed that getting the flu shot means that in the long run you are more susceptible to infections – I’m hoping that this is just hype and not true at all.

  24. Kristi F
    October 30, 2017 / 7:09 pm

    I have a soft spot for seniors as well, I love being around them. My grandmother always gets her flu shot.

  25. Linda H
    October 31, 2017 / 1:09 pm

    Most of the seniors I know are getting the flu shot.

  26. kathy downey
    November 4, 2017 / 6:21 pm

    Such great advice we just got out shots!

  27. November 25, 2017 / 3:20 pm

    I believe the stronger flu shot for seniors presently requires that you pay around $100.00 for it. However next January they are going to offer it to seniors for free, if my understanding is correct.

  28. kathy downey
    June 23, 2018 / 6:38 pm

    Yes we do have to be careful,my Mom will be 93 in Sept. and you really have to be careful.Thanks for the tips!