Research presented at this year’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference showed a strong correlation between older adults getting vaccinated against the flu and pneumonia, and lower risk of dementia.
The findings suggest that even a one-time seasonal flu shot was associated with a 17 per cent reduction in Alzheimer’s disease. Repeated vaccinations “cut Alzheimer’s incidence by a further 13 per cent.” Another study indicated that, for people aged 65 to 75, a pneumonia vaccination could reduce Alzheimer’s risk by up to 40 per cent.
Alarmingly, dementia patients who are hospitalized because of an infection are 6.5 times more likely to die than persons without dementia.
This is yet another reason why investing in preventive health, to keep seniors out of hospital, is critical to keeping our elders safe while significantly reducing burden on our health care system.
As we inch closer to flu season—made all the more treacherous by the lingering threat of COVID-19 (especially in long-term care homes, where the seasonal flu is the most dangerous)—governments must provide the best-in-class vaccines for older adults against flu, pneumonia and shingles.
We simply can’t afford not to invest in protecting vulnerable seniors in or out of residential care.