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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - According to the Centers for Disease Control, 24,000 Americans die from the flu each year. 90% of those deaths involve adults 65-years old and older.

That's why retirement communities and assisted care facilities all across West Michigan have plans in place to keep the flu away from their residents. One of those facilities is Villa Maria in Walker.

"We have 180 apartments so at any given time we have over 200 people in our building," said Dennis Meade, the executive director of Villa Maria.

There's a lot of people, there are also a lot of germs.

"Our residents range from 62 (years old) to 99," added Meade. "We've probably had a half dozen residents that I would actually say have had the flu."

Six residents out of 175. "We've been pretty fortunate," said Meade.

Staff members at Villa Maria have posted signage throughout the facility, asking residents, visitors and employees to wash their hands and utilize hand sanitizer often.

"Some of the other (retirement communities in West Michigan) have had to actually shut down their dining rooms and have their residents stay in their apartments," said Meade. "We have not had that big of an outbreak."

If people visiting Villa Maria miss one of the wall sanitizer dispenserswhen entering the facility, they won't miss the bottle that's positioned right next to the sign-in sheet.

"If whoever they're visiting is sick, encourage them to stay in their apartments," added Meade.

And if visitors themselves are sick, Villa Maria asks one favor.

"Please stay home," said Meade.

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