Flu seriously affecting elderly

People over the age of 65 still at extreme risk

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A new report shows flu season is leveling off, but it's still widespread in 38 states and it's still having a serious effect on the elderly.
The flu is killing a very high number of people over the age of 65.

The CDC is reporting a record number of deaths and flu cases for this age group.

The CDC said the numbers for hospitalizations are extremely high in the elderly this year. So high in fact, a flu expert at the CDC said it's the highest they've seen since they began monitoring it in 2005.

Helen Ridley takes care of her 92-year-old mother. One of the first things they did in September was get her a flu shot, but she still caught the flu this year.

"When she did get the flu a couple weeks ago, there were a lot of things that I normally would have not had to worry about," Ridley said. "She would have been able to prepare the soup and do some of the things and keep hygiene up and do things that I found myself doing that I have never had to do before."

People over the age of 65 are extremely vulnerable to the flu because their immune system is weaker.

Flu-related complications put more than 226,000 people in the hospital every year and anywhere from 3 to 49,000 die. Many of these cases involve the elderly.

"Statistics show that six out of ten flu related hospitalizations are older adults and nine out of 10 flu related deaths are older adults," Linda Levin, executive director of Eldersource said. "So it impacts them significantly."

Eldersource serves seven counties in the area, providing support and assistance for seniors. Their services have helped several people who have gotten the flu this year.

"There's in home services. A lot of our older adults are frail older adults," Levin said. "We have several programs that provide services to frail elders in their homes. Home maker services, personal care, care givers, home delivered meals."

It's not too late to get the flu shot. People over 65 should also avoid places where sick people may be.

All caretakers should also be vaccinated for the flu.