Nov 7, 2016 by Comfort Keepers
Pneumonia occurs when air sacs within the lungs, called alveoli, become irritated by bacteria, fungi or viruses and sometimes fill up with fluid. Pneumonia is more common in seniors than the rest of the population for a few reasons. The immune systems of seniors are often weaker or compromised by diseases like diabetes, COPD or asthma. Most of the time, seniors cannot as effectively clear secretions from their lungs as they once could. Also, seniors who are in pain or on medication often take shallow breaths, allowing mucus to collect in the alveoli.
Because pneumonia is so common in seniors, home care providers recommend that you and your family are familiar with symptoms. These include chest pain, cough, fever, chills, and shortness of breath. If you suspect your senior loved one may have pneumonia, their medical team will perform chest x-rays and a blood test. If your loved one does have bacterial pneumonia, they will likely be prescribed antiobiotics, antiviral medication, and sometimes breathing treatments. Pneumonia is common in seniors, but can also be fatal. If you suspect your loved one may have pneumonia, do not hesitate to call a medical professional.
Home care providers recommend several precautions that can be taken to reduce pneumonia. As cases of pneumonia in seniors peak during flu season, it is best to take these steps as soon as possible. The CDC encourages seniors to receive both a flu shot and a pneumococcal vaccine, which prevents bacterial pneumonia. Family members are also encouraged to be vaccinated. Seniors should also be encouraged to strengthen their immune system by living healthy lifestyles and practicing good hygiene. Because smoking changes the lung's natural defenses against foreign matter, seniors who smoke are at a higher risk of coming down with pneumonia.
Comfort Keepers home care providers in Spring Lake, MI can be there for you to recognize the symptoms of pneumonia and assist with treatment. Contact us today to learn more.