INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The number of flu related deaths continues to climb. Wednesday afternoon, state health officials said 40 influenza deaths have been reported for the 2012-2013 season.
This report was released on the same day Marion County health officials reported an increase in the number of visits to hospital emergency departments for influenza-like illnesses. There were more than 500 emergency room visits related to the flu last week, which was a 28 percent increase from the previous week.
Local in home senior care service providers say they are taking a proactive approach to protect their clients and caregivers. The team at Visiting Angels, an in home care agency, is distributing kits to help fight the flu.
They also sanitize the seniors' homes to keep them as germ-free as possible. 95 percent of patients in the Indianapolis are over the age of 80.
"The people we serve our going to be protected. We are not taking any extra chances. We are keeping people in their homes," Michelle Bell said. "No excursions. We are limiting grocery store visits social activities and things like that."
The kits contain the following:
- Paper towels – encourage seniors to use paper towels in the bathroom instead of hand towels, which can harbor germs.
- Thermometer – if seniors have a fever higher than 102 degrees, that could indicate they have the flu.
- Vitamin C or little boxes of orange juice – helps build seniors' weaker immune systems.
- Pocket-size hand sanitizer, with aloe – helps keep seniors' skin germ-free without drying out their sensitive skin.
- Pens – seniors should always have their own pen handy – pens shared in public areas carry a ton of germs.
- Lysol spray – reminder for seniors to spray doorknobs, handles, and light switches, etc... at least once a week – viruses can live up to 48 hours on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.
- Hand soap - recent studies show plain soap and water works just as well, if not better, than antibacterial soaps.
- Cold Vs. Flu Tip Sheet – this explains the difference between the cold and flu.
- Hand sanitizer wipes – these are handy to have on-the-go, whether to clean hands or public surfaces. Don't rely on just baby wipes because they do not contain the proper ingredients to kill viruses and germs.
Of the 40 deaths, 38 individuals had underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma and renal disease. A large majority of the deaths, 33, have occurred in individuals older than 65 years and two of the deaths occurred in individuals younger than 18 years.
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