2023 Flu Season

Healthy Tips for Preventing Flu in Elderly Black Communities

Written by Ifeanyi Paschal

Prevention, they say, is better than cure. In truth, once you come down with an ailment, consequences follow. For instance, you expend time and money to treat yourself. Did I leave out the opportunity cost? To be clear, ailments not only make you expend money and time, but they also make you feel unproductive and useless because you cannot do anything for yourself. This is true for everyone, especially elderly Black patients with the flu.

Influenza (commonly called flu) is an infection around the nose, throat, and lungs region, which makes up the respiratory system. Although most people get better on their own when they catch the flu, sometimes, it could get deadly due to its possible complications. If you are ≥65 years of age or work in nursing homes, you are an at-risk person! What’s more, studies have shown that you are prone to the flu if you have a compromised immune system, have a BMI (body mass index) of 40 or higher, or struggle with nervous system disorder. Before I walk you through what you should do to prevent the flu, it would help if you would grasp its susceptibility, cause, and symptoms.

Susceptibility, Cause, and Symptoms Among the Aging Black Community

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu hospitalization is 80% higher among Black adults, 30% higher among Native Americans, and 20% higher among Hispanics. The CDC attributed the high prevalence rate among Black adults to low vaccination rates. What’s even more disturbing is that the flu kills! Yes, if you are 65 years and above, you are more susceptible to influenza mortality than young people. The reason is that everyone has an immune system that helps their body fight pathogens. The complex system consists of macrophages (cells that serve as the first line of defense against pathogens and tumors), natural killer cells, and neutrophils. Although your immune system helps you fight diseases, it gradually wanes as you age. As a result, you become prone to viral, bacterial pneumonia, skin infections, and gastrointestinal tract infections.

As seen in other races, the influenza virus is the cause of the flu among aging Blacks. You are likely to contract it when you breathe in tiny airborne droplets from the coughs or sneezes of a flu patient. If you touch something contaminated with the virus, afterward, touch your mouth, nose, or eyes, you could also pick it up. The moment you touch an infected object, its symptoms appear all over you within 2 to 3 days. More often than not, you develop a high fever. On top of that, you could notice a headache, fatigue, eye pain, sore throats, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, and dry cough. In about 1 to 7 days, you begin to feel sick. Because it is a contagious disease, the disease spreads easily, affecting many people in a short time. Yes, the minute you are down with the flu, your loved ones are automatically at risk, especially if they make contact with you. However, I am not here to scare you; not in the slightest! Instead, I am here to show you specific self-help measures you should take to prevent influenza and age with grace, joy, and fulfillment. 

5 Healthy Tidbits for Preventing Flu Among Elderly Black Communities

Because the flu is contagious, you can contract it and transmit it to your loved ones. Therefore, I urge you to follow these healthy tips to keep it at bay:

  1. Step up your hygiene: Wash your hands regularly with soapy water because the flu virus can live on hard surfaces. Remember, you will have to prepare food and/or eat something at some point. In addition to that, don’t bite your nails. These are avenues through which you can pick up the flu. Keep hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it in short intervals. Plus, keep your home and environment clean at all times.  
  2. Get a flu shot: Did you know that the predominant circulating flu virus changes over time? It sure does! Therefore, you must prioritize your vaccination; don’t miss it. Once you are 65 and older, you are an at-risk person. Lest I forget, the more people get the vaccine, the safer our world becomes. This is a no-brainer!
  3. Boost your immune system: Much as getting vaccinated helps to strengthen your immune system, other lifestyle choices can also fortify it. First, sleep between 7 and 9 hours per night. If you can take a nap in the daytime, that’s awesome! Second, make a nutrient-rich meal plan. Ensure you have plenty of fruits and veggies in your meals. On the flip side, avoid smoking and alcohol. Third, start exercising. While at it, avoid arduous workouts and avoid stress too. Lastly, turn to Vitamins A, C, D, E, B6, and B12 to strengthen your immune system.  
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose: Hard as it may seem, don’t touch your nose, mouth, and eyes all the time. The reason is that germs are everywhere. Your eyes, nose, and mouth are the easiest facial openings through which germs enter your body.  Nevertheless, if you must touch them, ensure you wash or sanitize your hands before doing so. You should also wear a face mask whenever you are leaving your home.
  5. Stay away from crowded places: Admittedly, it is pretty uneasy to avoid crowds. But, if you could, you should. If you can limit your rate of making contact with people, you will lower your risk of contracting the flu. Keep in mind that flu spreads quickly in confined spaces, so you must avoid it at all costs. If you must visit a crowded place, please mask up! Still, stay away from sick people.

Given your age, the chances are you have a caregiver. However, nobody can love you more than you love yourself. Therefore, you have a responsibility to protect yourself from the flu. In fact, if you contract the flu, you are putting your caregiver and loved ones at risk. Away from that, if you notice the symptoms above, you should see a doctor. The good thing is that I’ve shown you effective self-help flu-preventive measures. Embrace them now to stay alive and healthy for yourself and your loved ones!

Join the crusade. Download and share our free flu vaccine posters: 

If you are a caregiver, please download our free Caregiver Flu-Free Zone Poster.

Also, download a copy of our Shield Our Roots 2023 Flu Vaccine Poster for your workplace.

To learn more, visit:


About the author

Ifeanyi Paschal

Ifeanyi Paschal is an experienced researcher and versatile writer. With nearly a decade of experience in the writing industry, Paschal has coordinated and participated in several research studies and written for companies in a wide spectrum of industries, including health and wellness, tech, HRM, and business development.

As a writer with Elevate Black Health, Paschal goes the extra mile to do extensive research and craft health and wellness articles that help the global Black community deepen its understanding of relevant health challenges, find effective solutions to them, and maximize healthy living.

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