Nursing homes take extra flu precautions to protect vulnerable elderly residents

Elderly faces bigger risks of flu complications

INDIANAPOLIS - At senior living and assisted care facilities, extra precautions are taken to limit residents' exposure to the flu.

The elderly are among the most vulnerable to severe complications and deaths from the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the elderly account for nearly 88 percent of annual influenza-related deaths.

At Morningside of College Park, employees are told not to come to work if they're showing symptoms.

A bad outbreak at the facility two years ago sickened 30 to 40 residents. There have been only 12 cases of flu at Morningside so far this season.

Now, people with the flu are isolated to their apartments and there is hand sanitizer everywhere.

"They eat together. They go to activities together. They're coughing and might not have a handkerchief, and that's how we see it transferred," said Morningside Executive Director Susan Albers. "So that's why we isolate, and we're real successful this year."

Five-hundred people live at Marquette, a senior living center that also has assisted, memory and medical care.

Signs on the entrances warn visitors on ways to help stop the spread of the flu.

As of Friday, workers said that there are no flu cases at Marquette, but there is a plan in case quarantine is necessary.

"That would be a fairly significant step for us to basically restrict visitation. But that's something we'd consider if necessary," said Marquette Executive Director Steven Still.

Staff members are trained in flu prevention and most residents get an annual flu shot, and the efforts are paying off.

"The nutrients I put into my body are healthy foods and juices and I keep my hands and my face clean," said Morningside resident Larry Teich.

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