At Last, some cold weather

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What a delightful weekend……we had a fire in the woodstove all weekend long thanks to Ben Franklin. If it weren’t for him and David Rittenhouse I would have had to cut a lot more firewood for a lot less heat. The Franklin stove is a metal-lined fireplace named after Benjamin Franklin, who invented it in 1741. It had a hollow baffle near the rear (to transfer more heat from the fire to a room’s air) and relied on an “inverted siphon” to draw the fire’s hot fumes around the baffle. It was intended to produce more heat and less smoke than an ordinary open fireplace.

But Ben’s stove had several flaws. A later version, designed by David Rittenhouse, solved many of the problems Franklin’s original stove had and became popular. Franklin’s fame outweighed Rittenhouse’s, though, so history remembers the Franklin Stove rather than the Rittenhouse Stove. If you’re interested in more details look it up on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_stove.

Alas however, everything about this cold weather is not cool; it also brings with it the Flu season. Definitely not cool for seniors.

What is “The Flu” anyway? WebMD says Influenza, commonly known as the “flu,” is an extremely contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses. Flu appears most frequently in winter and early spring. The flu virus attacks the body by spreading through the upper and/or lower respiratory tract. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

Why is the flu a threat to seniors? The CDC (Centers for disease control) says “It has been recognized for many years that people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults because human immune defenses become weaker with age. While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease. In recent years, for example, it’s estimated that over 70 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older. So influenza is often quite serious for people 65 and older.”

So what should we do besides sitting in front of Ben and David’s wood stove all winter to stay warm?

  1. Go and get a flu shot if you haven’t already. Preferably, a “high dose vaccine” designed specifically for people 65 and older that contains 4 times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot.

  2. Practice good health habits including covering coughs, washing hands often, and avoiding people who are sick

  3. Seek medical advice quickly if you develop flu symptoms

  4. Get pneumococcal vaccines. People who 65 years and older should also be up to date with pneumococcal vaccination to protect against pneumococcal disease, such as pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

PS……True confession: I’m getting my flu shot today; better late than never!

Bill Milby, CSA, is a Certified Senior Advisor and a Director of Visiting Angels® of Macon, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com or search for us at www.facebook.com/VisitingAngelsMacon.

Bill Milby, CSA, is a Certified Senior Advisor and a Director of Visiting Angels® of Macon, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

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