Caring for Seniors: Difference Between Flu and COVID-19

Caring for seniors is especially complicated when symptoms appear that are in common with different illnesses. For example, do you know the difference between flu and COVID-19 symptoms? Many of the symptoms are the same. Both of these illnesses attack the respiratory system, which can be very dangerous for older adults. Elderly people are more likely to have weakened immune systems, leaving them vulnerable to the risks of colds, flu, and COVID-19.

With a pandemic in full force, caregivers need to continually get education about the difference between the flu and COVID-19 so that seniors get the best possible care.

What Is the Difference Between Coronavirus vs Flu

COVID-19 and the flu share a lot of similarities. Both illnesses share a lot of the same symptoms, are highly contagious, and they’re both caused by viruses. Even with the proper treatment, either illness can lead to death.

Influenza virus A or B causes the flu. By contrast, COVID-19 is an illness caused by a virus in the coronavirus family. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the flu and COVID-19 based only on their symptoms. If either one is a concern, it’s best to get a proper diagnosis by getting seniors tested. Vaccines may or may not be effective in treating the flu because there are many different strains of flu.

COVID-19 is a new illness, and the general public hasn’t had the chance to build up immunities to fight against it. New vaccines for COVID-19 are now being released with the hope of ending the pandemic. In the meantime, it’s best to understand the difference between flu and coronavirus and get the right treatment for the condition.

Recognizing Flu Symptoms in the Battle Between Coronavirus and Influenza

The flu is a common illness that’s familiar to us. The symptoms can come on quickly and they can be incredibly uncomfortable. In most cases, people with the flu recover within a week or so.

See a list of common flu symptoms below:


  • Body aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Fever and chills

Because older adults have weakened immune systems, they are more vulnerable to having complications connected with the flu.

What Is the Difference in COVID-19 Symptoms?

Unlike flu symptoms which emerge soon after the virus attacks, COVID-19 symptoms may not appear for a few days or as long as a couple of weeks. Coronavirus affects people differently. Some people only have mild symptoms, and others have very serious symptoms.

COVID-19 symptoms may include:

Fever and chills

  • Cough and congestion
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste or smell

The only way to get a clear diagnosis is to get tested and it’s important to do it as soon as possible.

How Is Coronavirus Different from Flu?

To put things in a better perspective, Let’s run through some more specific differences between COVID-19 and the flu.

A flu cough is mild and dry. COVID-19 coughs are more severe and can cause shortness of breath.

  • Most people won’t have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing when they have the flu, but people with COVID-19 often do.
  • People with COVID-19 may experience repeated shaking with chills.
  • With COVID-19, it’s common for people to have a new and sudden loss of taste or smell.
  • People with COVID-19 typically have at least two symptoms, whereas people with the flu may only have one symptom.

How to Protect Yourself from Flu and COVID-19

There are several things you can do to encourage seniors to do to protect themselves from the flu, COVID-19, and other illnesses:

Since COVID-19 is a new illness, there is still much that medical professionals don’t know about it. The best way to prevent the flu and COVID-19 is to avoid exposure to it.

  • Until the pandemic is under control, it’s best to follow the CDC’s guidelines.
  • For older adults, it’s best not to go out unless they have to.
  • If they do need to go out, they should wear a mask and keep a social distance of at least six feet between them and other people.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds throughout the day.
  • Get a flu shot for the protection of many strains of the flu.

Making decisions about health is important to the quality of life. Professional caregivers are trained to understand the differences in symptoms between the flu and COVID-19. They’ll know when the symptoms are of a serious nature where someone can just ride them out and when they need serious medical attention. Our caregivers from at Home Care Services are trained to watch for the symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and other illnesses. Give us a call for a quote on non-medical services today.

Mike Miller

Mike Miller

Mike Miller is the CEO and Founder of At Home Care Service, a Home Care agency located in San Diego, California. Senior Caring Solutions was the previous name of the business. He has been involved with senior care for over 15 years. Mike knows the ins and outs of the home care industry, and he is a great resource for people looking for elderly care services. Mike is well-known in California as an expert in the industry.


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