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How Seniors Can Prevent Pneumonia

Home Care San Diego senior couple at home he is eating breakfast in bed while she checks on him

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (PDF), pneumonia and influenza are the 5th-leading cause of death amongst people over the age of 65.  This statistic highlights how important it is for seniors to avoid this deadly disease.  This article will share some useful tips for avoiding this life-threatening disease.

What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition that affects the lungs. The most common causes of pneumonia are bacterial infection, viruses, mycoplasmas, autoimmune conditions, medications and chemical exposure.  When a person has pneumonia, small air sacs in the lungs called alveoli become inflamed, making it difficult to breath.  Other symptoms of pneumonia can include chest pain, fever, and a cough.

People over the age of 65 are susceptible to pneumonia because they tend to have reduced lung capacity and health conditions linked that can lead to pneumonia. Other risk factors that increase the chances of pneumonia include difficulty swallowing, lung disease, a weakened immune system, impaired conscious (which can be caused by dementia), and heart disease.  Seniors who live in a nursing facility are also more likely to get pneumonia.

How to prevent pneumonia
These simple tips can greatly reduce a person’s risk of having pneumonia.

Learn how to spot pneumonia early on
It is important to diagnose pneumonia as early as possible, so it can be treated before it becomes life-threatening.  Unfortunately, pneumonia can be difficult to diagnose in some seniors because they do not exhibit the most obvious symptoms (coughing, fever, and chills).  Seniors, family members, and caregivers should look for other signs of pneumonia also — weakness, confusion, delirium, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, and dizziness.      

Improve your hygiene
Respiratory tract infections, the influenza virus, and the common cold are all significant risk factors for pneumonia.  If you can avoid these conditions, your risk of pneumonia is greatly reduced.   Seniors can do so by practicing good hygiene.  Regularly wash your hands with soap and water — particularly if you are in a busy location with lots of people.

Pneumonia can also be spread from oral infections, so seniors should practice good dental hygiene.  Finally, seniors should avoid contact with people who are ill.  If family members are ill, ask them to stay away temporarily.  That is particularly true for very infectious conditions like the flu and common cold.

Seniors should be immunized
There is a vaccination available for bacterial pneumococcal pneumonia.  It is a one-time vaccine that can protect seniors from this common type of pneumonia.  Seniors should also receive an annual vaccine for the influenza virus also, as it can lead to pneumonia.

No more cigarettes!
Smoking tobacco great increases a person’s risk of having pneumonia.  Tobacco smoke reduces the lungs ability to fight off infections and increases the risk of a senior being afflicted with the common cold or the flu.

Eat well and exercise
Seniors who eat a balanced and nutritious diet are better equipped to avoid pneumonia and the illnesses that lead to pneumonia.  Your immune system will be much stronger if your body is receiving adequate nutrition.  Obtaining plenty of rest and getting some exercise can also help you avoid pneumonia.

How Adult Home Health Care Can Help
Adult Home Health Care supplies highly skilled caregivers to work in a client’s home.  We can help clients remain in the comfort of their own home —safely and comfortably.  Some of the ways our caregivers can help seniors avoid pneumonia include:

  • Providing transportation to a doctor’s office or hospital for treatment
  • Picking up medications and ensuring they are taken appropriately
  • Ensuring the home is a clean and safe environment that is free of harmful bacteria and viruses
  • Recognizing the symptoms of pneumonia in a client
  • Performing your grocery shopping so you are not exposed to busy environments where infections can be picked up
  • Preparing meals that are nutritious and delicious
  • Helping the client to perform exercises

We hope you found this article very informative.  If you have any questions about our services, contact Adult Home Health Care at 619-940-6561.  We offer in-home consultations and would love to discuss the many home care services available.