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5 Things Caregivers of People with Disabilities Need To Know About the Flu

This website is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated. For updated information on the current flu season, see the CDC Seasonal Flu website.

April 8, 2010 10:00 AM ET

If you provide care for a person with a disability either at home or in a community-based setting, there are some things you should know about the flu.

  1. The flu can be serious for people with disabilities, who.

    • have health problems that makes it hard for the person’s body to fight off infections  
    • have difficulty walking and moving around
    • are not able to stay away from people who may be sick with the flu
    • have other health conditions, like asthma, bronchitis, cancer, diabetes, lung problems or heart disease
    • Have trouble understanding or taking steps to prevent the flu, such as hand washing and protecting themselves from germs spread by coughs and sneezes.
    • Are not able to tell you if they are sick.
  2. Plan what you will do if you or the person you care for gets the flu.

    • Create a contact list of local family, friends, and local service agencies that can help with care giving if you get sick.
    • Make sure that the person you care for knows at least two ways of staying in touch with people, such as land-line phone, cell phone, text-messaging, email.
    • Ask the health care provider or pharmacist whether flu medicine is safe to take with any medication taken regularly by the person you care for.

    Taking good care of yourself with these steps can help the person you care for too!!

  3. Call your doctor or clinic to get your seasonal flu vaccine and 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine.

  4. Take everyday steps to help prevent the spread of germs.

    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
    • Stay away from people who are sick, or stay home if you are sick.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  5. Call your doctor or clinic If you get sick with a cold, cough, sneeze or fever.   This could be the flu and you may need to take antiviral drugs.

    • Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) that fight the flu.
    • Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.
 
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