What Serving Seniors is Doing About the Flu Outbreak in San Diego

January 12, 2018 - Paul Downey

The 2017-2018 flu season is being described as the deadliest flu season on record in San Diego, with more than 10,300 cases and 91 deaths reported so far. And it’s not just elderly people dying from flu-related complications, like pneumonia: in California, 27 people younger than the age of 65 have died this year, compared to 4 last year.

With the number of flu-related deaths having doubled (from 45 to 91) in one week, County officials recommend that everyone get a flu shot. Officials report that 70% of flu-related deaths in San Diego were people who had not been vaccinated. The vaccine is 40% effective and more than 600,000 have been administered across the county this season.

The Flu and Seniors

It’s important that seniors protect themselves and not underestimate the seriousness of the flu, as it’s especially contagious and can be life-threatening, especially for older adults, people with chronic medical conditions and people with compromised immune systems.

According to the CDC, “people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared to young, healthy adults because human immune defenses become weaker with age.” Flu shots are covered by Medicare.

Early detection is important for seniors, who are encouraged to seek medical treatment at the first sign of symptoms. If caught early, the flu can be treated with a prescription of antiviral medication, which helps shorten the duration and lessen the symptoms of the illness.

How Serving Seniors is Combating the Flu

  • Our nurse case management team has developed a pamphlet to educate clients and staff about the flu and how to prevent it, including effective hand washing.
  • Infection control and communicative disease training has been provided for staff.
  • We have a nurse case manager available onsite at our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center Monday – Saturday, with walk-in hours and appointment availability.
  • Serving Seniors has partnered with SHARP HealthCare to provide flu education and vaccinations in our facilities.
  • Staff with flu symptoms are encouraged to stay or return home to prevent spreading illness.

Flu Symptoms Include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue/confusion
  • Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea
  • People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever

How to Protect Yourself and Others from the Flu

  • Get the flu vaccine. Find out where
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often
  • Use hand sanitizers
  • Stay away from sick people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Regularly clean commonly touched surfaces with antibacterial solutions
  • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others, especially older adults, young children, people with chronic medical conditions and people with compromised immune systems
  • If you start to get flu-like symptoms, seek medical attention immediately

Thank You and Happy New Year!

January 5, 2018 - Paul Downey


Thank you for your friendship and support throughout 2017. You made this past year better for nearly 5,000 low-income seniors right here in San Diego. I’m truly inspired by your generosity and deeply grateful for your support, and I hope you’re proud of what we’ve accomplished together for San Diego’s seniors.

I’d like to offer you a tour of our facilities so we can show you the inspiring outcomes that your support has facilitated. To arrange a tour please contact Lori Gremel, Chief Development and External Affairs Officer, at 619-487-0608 or lori.gremel@servingseniors.org.

On behalf of all the seniors whose lives you’ve improved, thank you.

Wishing you a joyous new year,

Paul Downey
President and CEO, Serving Seniors


Meals and Healthcare

Because of your support, seniors like Dennis have access to healthy, satisfying, culturally diverse meals 365 days a year.

Dennis, who has type 2 diabetes, says the meals, healthcare and supportive services he gets through Serving Seniors are essential to his health. Always ready with a smile and warm hello, Dennis visits our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center nearly every day.


Affordable Senior Housing

Because of your support, seniors like Rosalinda and Manuel have affordable, permanent, senior-friendly housing.

Before they moved into our City Heights residence, Rosie and Manuel lived in their motorhome, without reliable access to hot water. Now the couple visit our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center regularly and do what they can to pay their good fortune forward, feeding the homeless and referring them to supportive services when possible.



Because of your support, we were able to provide hundreds of hepatitis A vaccinations to seniors and staff members across all of our locations, free of charge.

We were also able to provide our seniors, staff and visitors with hand washing stations throughout our buildings and teach them how to protect themselves and each other.


Transitional Housing Program for Homeless Seniors

Because of your support, seniors like Bruce can obtain stable housing and successful independent living through our Transitional Housing Program for Homeless Seniors.

Becoming homeless for the first time at age 67, Bruce has since completed the Transitional Housing Program, moved into a stunning apartment in the Talmadge area, and is advocating on behalf of homeless seniors.


Lifelong Learning

Because of your support, we’re able to provide more than 750 classes, programs and activities every year, including fitness and hobby groups.

Before she started participating in the walking group, Avelina needed a cane for stability. Now a regular and enthusiastic participant of both the walking and singing groups, this spunky lady encourages others to get (and keep) moving.

Here’s Avelina’s Senior Idol performance from August 2017, with no cane in sight:

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