Local Retirement Homes Taking Measures to Avoid Flu

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

At 88-years-old, you can never be too careful when it comes to your health, just ask Betty Cleeves.

"I got a flu shot form my doctor in the early part of September," said Cleeves.

In response to this hard-hitting flu season, staff at Edgewood Retirement Center in Lansing are making it their top priority to educate Cleeves and the other 90 residents of the community about the flu. It starts with encouraging residents to get flu shots, something they offer every year.

"We're really trying to be a step ahead," said Laura VanDerKolk, Director of Edgewood Retirement Center. "They health department came out and offered flu shots to our residents and our owner paid for flu shots for all of our staff."

VanDerKolk says around 50 percent of her residents got the shot at Edgewood back in September, typical of most years. Even more got it from their doctor's office, a good idea for an age group especially threatened by the virus.

"Typically, nearly 90 percent of flu-related deaths are in folks over 65 years of age," said Christine Hendrickson of the Ingham County Health Department.

Hendrickson says the ability to fight the flu has to do with the immune system, which weakens as people get older.

"They may have pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease," said Hendrickson. "They're more at risk for complications."

That means preventing the virus from taking hold at places, like retirement communities, is key.

"We have sanitizers when they walk in the building, before they go into the dining room," said VanDerKolk.

Add in daily wipe-downs of railings, door knobs and telephones and Edgewood says they're ready to fight the flu.

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