Early Signs of the Flu

Far from only sniffles and a cough, the flu can strike senior loved ones hard. With a vulnerable immune system, those over age 65 are specifically susceptible to complications from the flu, which could be quite severe. As we enter into flu season, Grace Home Care wants to help you, as well as the seniors you love, be prepared for – and protected against – influenza.

Signs and Symptoms

While colds are rampant this time of year as well, there are some telling differences between the typical cold and the flu. As an example, a cold may cause:

  • Congestion
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Coughing and sore throat

Influenza may also produce these symptoms, but often includes:

  • Fever, aches, and chills
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headache
  • Discomfort in the chest

Older adults showing these early signs of the flu should see the doctor as soon as possible; an anti-viral prescription may help to minimize the severity and duration associated with the flu if taken within the first 48 hours immediately after symptoms begin.


70% of hospitalizations and 85% of deaths from the flu occur in those ages 65 and older, often from the results of flu-related complications, including bronchitis and pneumonia. Be sure to locate immediate medical attention for a senior displaying the following signs and symptoms:

  • Bronchitis:
    • Green, yellow, or gray mucous when coughing
    • Fever
    • Chest pain
    • Fatigue and shortness of breath
  • Pneumonia:
    • Decline in body temperature
    • Nausea/vomiting
    • Confusion/delirium

The flu can also lead to sinus and ear infections, swelling of the brain, heart, and muscles, and may worsen pre-existing conditions including asthma.


As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and luckily, an effective way of preventing the flu is available and strongly suggested for the elderly: a high-dose form of the flu vaccine. September is the ideal time for you to ensure the seniors in your life receive their flu vaccines, in order to guarantee the maximum degree of protection when flu season strikes (October through May).

Further precautionary measures can include:

  • Keep up a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, sensible nutritional choices, and reduced stress
  • Wash hands regularly and keep hands away from the face
  • Steer clear of crowds of people and high-traffic areas during flu season
  • Keep the home environment thoroughly clean and sanitized

Grace Home Care, providers of the Alzheimer’s care Topeka families trust, helps keep senior loved ones safe and healthy in many ways as well! We’re readily available to provide transportation for older adults in order to get their flu shots, attend regular medical appointments, prepare nutritious meals, assist with housecleaning, and much more.

Contact us at 785-286-2273 for a free of charge in-home consultation and discover a safer, healthier and much more enjoyable lifestyle for the older adults you love from Grace Home Care, the top alternative to Topeka independent living facilities!