Pneumonia refers to an infection that inflames your lungs’ air sacs. Although it can affect anyone, it is more threatening for older adults, as they are at a much higher risk of complications and even death. According to the CDC, pneumonia, together with the flu, is the leading cause of death for people aged 65 and above. It is important to visit a doctor when your loved one is showing signs of pneumonia, but prevention is always better than cure. So, here are some tips to prevent pneumonia in seniors.
Classic signs of pneumonia include chills, high fever, chest pain, and shortness of breath. However, for older adults, symptoms may not present themselves like the above. They may have a low-grade fever or no fever at all. Often, older adults with pneumonia can be confused and have changes in their ability to carry out their daily routines. Additionally, if your loved ones have dementia or Alzheimer’s, they may be unable to alert you to their symptoms. Make sure you pay close attention to any signs of respiratory or non-respiratory symptoms that can be warning signs of pneumonia.
Seemingly harmless infections like the flu or the common cold can lead to pneumonia. A simple way to prevent the spread of these infections would be to wash your hands regularly. If you do not have constant access to a bathroom, consider carrying hand sanitizer with you to keep your hands germ-free. However, oral infections can also lead to pneumonia. Ensure that your loved ones brush their teeth and floss at least twice a day. If they use dentures, make sure to clean them thoroughly before bed every night for a clean set of dentures the next morning. You should also make sure that your loved one stays clear of anyone who may be sick, as this would put them at great risk of falling sick themselves.
Consider getting vaccinated against pneumonia. There are two types of vaccines – PCV13 and PPSV23. PCV13 protects people from 13 of the most dangerous bacteria that cause pneumonia, while PPSV23 protects against an additional 23 types of bacteria. One of each shot would be able to keep you protected for your entire life, but make sure you check with your doctor if you are eligible for a booster shot.
It is no secret that staying healthy is the best way to prevent your loved ones from contracting pneumonia or any disease for that matter. In addition to getting their recommended amount of exercise per week, make sure your loved one is drinking enough water and getting plenty of sleep. When exercising, consider incorporating cardio into your routine as this can help maintain strong and healthy lungs.
Smoking is a crucial risk factor in contracting pneumonia. It affects the lungs’ ability to fight infections. If your loved one smokes regularly, consider getting all the support they need to kick the habit. Quitting smoking is probably one of the best things an aging adult can do to stay healthy and prevent pneumonia.