Canadian Lung Association Blog

Five steps ANYONE can take to protect the breath of older Canadians

A happy older woman volunteers in her communityNot only is it the start of Canada’s peak flu season, October 1st also marks the United Nation’s International Day of Older Persons – a day about recognizing, enabling and expanding the contributions of older people in their families, communities, and society at large.  At The Lung Association, we believe that protecting the breath of older Canadians is imperative to achieving this goal. Let’s start with flu prevention.

Consider this: Despite only being 15% of Canada’s population1, adults 65+ accounted for 70% of hospitalizations and 91% of deaths due to influenza2 during the 2014/15 flu season. That’s more than 3,000 older Canadians whose lives were cut short3 by a vaccine-preventable disease. That’s 3,000 fewer workers, volunteers, team members, companions, family members, and sources of wisdom.

Luckily there are ways to protect the breath of older Canadians and change the story for flu season 2017/18:

  1. Find the flu vaccine that’s right for you. No matter your age, you have options! Whether you feel great and rarely get sick, or you have a pre-existing lung condition that ups your risk of catching the flu or developing complications, your health-care provider can help you determine the vaccine that is right for you. Know the options that are available, especially if you’re 65 or older. Start the conversation.
  1. Spread the word about flu vaccination. The more Canadians willing to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated, the fewer we’ll lose to influenza. Community immunity has an important role to play in stopping the flu in its tracks, so thank you for protecting your fellow breathers! And remember, those fellow breathers are likely your family and friends.
  1. Suds up. Frequent and thorough hand washing is a simple way to reduce your risk of catching or spreading the flu and similar illnesses like the common cold, or even certain types of pneumonia.
  1. Hands off. Keep your hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes, especially when in public. Carry tissues with you to handle coughs and sneezes, dispose of them right away and then wash your hands. Caught empty-handed? Coughing or sneezing into the crook of your arm is actually more hygienic than using your bare hands.
  1. Stay home. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of the flu, that is! Staying home from work, school and public places is a simple way to limit the spread of the illness, and may even help you recover sooner.

[1] Statistics Canada Population Projections: Canada, the Provinces and Territories, 2013 to 2063

[2] Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). FluWatch. May 3 to May 9, 2015

[3] An Advisory Committee Statement (ACS) National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). Statement on Seasonal Influenza Vaccine for 2015-2016.

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