While pneumonia can happen to anyone regardless of age, seniors tend to be more susceptible to developing them due to their weaker immune systems. A recent study even revealed that in the United States alone, it is estimated that about 1 million adults over the age of 65 are hospitalized with pneumonia every year. As such, it is imperative to know about what causes and pneumonia and how to prevent pneumonia in the elderly so that our loved ones can continue to enjoy a good quality of life.
Causes of Pneumonia in The Elderly
To understand how to treat and prevent pneumonia from developing in the elderly, we must first understand the root cause of pneumonia. Pneumonia is a condition that is generally caused by over-exposure to germs, such as bacteria and viruses. Most commonly, the bacteria and viruses responsible for pneumonia are in the air that we breathe, so it is almost impossible to completely avoid catching pneumonia. Despite that, what we can do to fight against the development of pneumonia is to build up our immune systems to keep them out.
Key Tips to Prevent Pneumonia in The Elderly
- Awareness. Knowing the symptoms of pneumonia can help to diagnose pneumonia early which translates to quick and effective treatment. Pneumonia symptoms are extremely mild so it can be hard to notice them, which can lead to late and difficult treatment. A non-exhaustive list of symptoms of pneumonia are as follows:
- Shortness of breath
- Fever and chills
- Loss of appetite, fatigue, and low energy
- Shallow and rapid breathing
- Confusion, especially in elderly
- Stabbing or sharp pain in the chest area when coughing or breathing deeply
Seniors that are quick to identify the symptoms they experience may go for checkups early, which is imperative for timely and effective treatment. However, it is important to note that some seniors may have cognitive problems such as those with Alzheimer’s disease. As such, the loved ones of seniors also need to play their part and help to identify such symptoms.
- Boosting the immune system. Since our immune system is responsible for fighting off invasive viruses and bacteria, a strong immune system will make the body less susceptible to developing pneumonia. To strengthen the immune system of seniors, you need to ensure that they follow a nutritious diet that enables them to acquire the recommended amounts of nutrients and vitamins. Apart from that, unhealthy practices that are detrimental to the immune system such as smoking should also be avoided or cut down wherever possible. Not only is smoking detrimental to the immune system, but it also interferes with the lung’s ability to fight off infections.
- Hygiene. Another important factor to prevent catching any disease is to practice good hygiene. For example, frequent washing of hands can help to eliminate the spread of these conditions. In some cases, even dental infections can lead to pneumonia, so good oral health is imperative. In the event that seniors have difficulty maintaining good hygiene, they may consider assisted living options to keep safe.