The winter season brings fun holidays and beautiful frosty landscapes, but it is also the time of year when people develop serious illnesses, like pneumonia. Elderly adults are at high risk for developing pneumonia, a serious lung infection, and it can significantly affect their health and well-being. Pneumonia causes more than 50,000 senior deaths each year throughout the United States. Many family caregivers want to know more about pneumonia, so they can spot the symptoms early and arrange for medical help.
Symptoms of Pneumonia in the Elderly
Millions of people develop pneumonia each year, but very young children and seniors are the most seriously affected. With pneumonia, the air sacs in the lungs become infected and therefore inflamed. The inflammation hinders breathing, reducing the levels of oxygen in the blood. When the air sacs fill with pus, breathing is much more difficult, leading to more serious complications.
Elderly adults have a harder time ridding the body of the infection and restoring the lungs to working order. Symptoms of pneumonia in aging adults includes wheezing, coughing, phlegm, chest pain and fever. Less obvious symptoms of the illness include fatigue and confusion.
Treatment of Pneumonia
Millions of seniors are hospitalized each year for pneumonia because they need help from skilled medical teams to help them fight off the infection. Without treatment, an aging adult could die from the illness. Usually, seniors are given antibiotics as the first line of treatment to attempt to get the lung infection under control. In the hospital, elderly patients may be intubated and put on a respirator to deliver breathing treatments. Depending on their current health and strength, seniors with pneumonia may stay in the hospital for several days or even weeks.
If an elderly adult is recovering from pneumonia at home, they are going to need all the help they can get. Hiring an elder care provider is a good way for aging adults to be able to relax and recover without worrying about things like meal preparation, housekeeping and laundry. The elder care provider can help seniors remember when to take medication, ensure they drink plenty of fluids, watch for spiking fevers and notify family members if the aging adult grows sicker.
Family caregivers and elder care providers can do a lot to help the aging adult to avoid pneumonia. Because the illness is contagious, the top prevention practice is for everyone to wash their hands frequently throughout the day. Seniors can get a pneumonia prevention vaccine in the fall that will reduce their risk of catching the illness. A healthy diet and regular exercise puts the body in a prime position to resist infection. Everyone should cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing as the germs are spread through the air.
Pneumonia is a serious health issue that plagues millions of elderly Americans every ear. Family caregivers and home care providers can work together to reduce the risks as well as watch for symptoms so the aging adult can get the medical help they need when and if they do catch it.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Burnsville, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.