Caregiver Tips: Can You Tell the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu?

By Robert D. Liken CPC, CTS, President

December 17, 2015

Caregiver in Beaver PA

A large part of your caregiver efforts are dedicated to helping your aging loved ones stay as healthy as possible, but you know that no matter how hard you try, it is likely that they will catch a bugCaregiver-Beaver-PA at some point during your care experience. Knowing what type of illness your loved ones are facing, however, can help you to confront this challenge and handle it in the best way possible.
When your aging parents fall ill during the fall or winter months, one of your first fears is likely that they have the flu. Seniors are far more vulnerable to illness than younger adults and have a more difficult time fighting off infection, which means they are more likely to catch an illness and experience serious health consequences, including the possibility that that infection could develop into something more severe, such as pneumonia. Often when you think that your parents are ill with the flu, however, they actually just have a cold.
Use these tips to help you tell the difference between a cold and the flu so you can make sure that you get your parents the proper care and help them to overcome their illness as quickly and effectively as possible:
• Development. How quickly the symptoms develop can help you tell the difference between the two illnesses. Colds generally take a few days to develop, while the flu can become serious within hours.
• Aches. Achiness is one of those symptoms that people immediately associate with the flu, and that is because they are common and often severe with the flu, but very mild if existing at all with a cold.
• Fever. A senior who has developed the flu is likely to have a fever over 100 degrees. Colds, however, either have no fever or a very slight fever that is under 100 degrees.
• Headache. Headaches sometimes happen with a cold, but frequently occurs with the flu and can be very intense.
• Coughing and sneezing. Often the telltale signs of illness, coughing and sneezing can be unpleasant and lingering, but with a cold, they are generally mild. If your seniors have the flu, however, these symptoms can be severe and feel almost debilitating, particularly when they persist throughout the night and keep your loved ones from getting enough rest.
• Sore throat. While the flu usually has the most severe symptoms, one area where this switches is with a sore throat. While a painful throat might occur with the flu, it is very common with a cold.
• Energy level. Your seniors might not feel up to going for a long walk or doing an entire day of holiday shopping if they have a cold, but if they have the flu, expect them to feel completely drained and exhausted.
Telling the difference between a cold and the flu can be difficult at times, which is why getting your parents the medical attention they need as quickly as possible is essential for fast diagnosis and an effective course of treatment that can help your loved ones get over their illness and avoid more severe issues.

If you or an aging loved one are considering caregiver services in Beaver, PA, please contact the friendly staff at Liken Home Care.  Call (412) 693-6820 or (855) 856-0551