Late last month, we got a call from my almost octogenarian father-in-law, Lou. Lou has always been relatively healthy. During this call, Lou told us that he had the flu. He said not to worry, that he was taking good care of himself.  

His flu turned into pneumonia and then double pneumonia.  He died in the ICU 18 days later. 

My father-in-law was not alone. Influenza is a silent killer. According to the American Lung Association fact sheet, influenza and pneumonia combined are the eighth leading cause of death among all Americans and the seventh leading cause of death among all Americans over the age of 65.  And adults 65 years of age and older who contract seasonal influenza are much more likely to have serious complications from this illness, which can affect their health and independence. 

Given the pandemic issues that can relate from an outbreak of influenza, it is important that your residents, patients, staff and guests are appropriately prepared for the flu this season. Long-term care providers know about the importance of hand washing and proper hand hygiene protocol, as well as getting a flu shot. However, there are other, less obvious steps you can take.  

In the event of a flu outbreak at your community, communications to residents, family and staff regarding the proactive steps you are taking to ensure a safe environment is critical to keeping residents aware of closings and cancellations, and families and residents at ease. It’s worth investigating how you are communicating the outbreak to invested stakeholders. 

One of our clients, Five Star Senior Living, used our messaging solution to provide updates and said there was positive feedback.  

No matter what the plan is, influenza in seniors is a serious illness. Communication is as important as taking proper precautions.  

Bruce Baron is the CEO of VoiceFriend.  He can be reached at 781-996-3123 or at