Being aware of potential health risks can play a vital role in maintaining senior health. As September settles in, health officials across the country are warning seniors to be aware of their risk for West Nile Virus.
West Nile is a virus commonly transmitted to humans and mammals via mosquitoes. While common symptoms include muscle aches, fever, vomiting and other flu-like symptoms, 1% of individuals who are infected will develop a serious and sometimes fatal neurological illness. Due to weakened immune symptoms, seniors are at a higher risk of serious complications from West Nile. In fact, in New Jersey alone, two West Nile deaths were reported in the last week of August as a 78-year-old woman and 92-year-old man both succumbed to West Nile infection in separate instances.
How to Prevent West Nile Virus
There are no medications or vaccines to prevent or help speed treatment of West Nile. For this reason, prevention is key – especially for high risk populations like seniors.
For seniors who have assistance living independently, such as that from an in-home care agency using a home care software or home care system, prevention can be integrated as part of care, especially for seniors who enjoy spending time outdoors.
Caregivers may be given daily tasks in the homecare software or homecare system to help seniors prepare for time outside, especially in evening hours when mosquitoes are most active. Such tasks may include:
- Ensuring seniors wear long sleeves and pants
- Helping to apply a bug repellent containing DEET
- Keeping seniors inside when mosquitoes are most active
Caregivers can also provide a watchful eye for hazards that may raise risk of West Nile infection from the presence of mosquitoes, such as broken screen doors or standing water. With a homecare software or homecare system, like ClearCare online in place, caregivers can leave voice comments for agency administrators or family caregivers to hear via the homecare software – alerting them to action needed to help keep seniors safe.
Additionally, agencies may consider holding a training around West Nile and other summer risks seniors are susceptible to in order to arm caregivers with the power of knowledge. Caregivers who have attended these trainings can then have the knowledge tracked via the agency’s homecare system so that administrators easily know when it’s time for a refresher training for their workforce.
The words “West Nile” can be a frightening idea for seniors and their loved ones, but with proper precautions, which may include the help of a caregiver using ClearCare Online’s homecare software, seniors can avoid the bite.