While pneumonia is a devastating respiratory condition that can affect people of all ages, it is especially harmful to elderly people. Seniors that are over 65 years old are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia and it can affect them more severely than in younger adults. In many cases, there are numerous health complications associated with pneumonia in seniors, and sometimes it is even fatal. Family caregivers that have elderly care responsibilities need to know the symptoms of pneumonia in the elderly so they can ensure timely medical treatment.
Why Seniors are High Risk for Pneumonia
There are several reasons why pneumonia affects seniors so significantly. This lung infection is triggered by numerous organisms like viruses, bacteria and more. Elderly people don’t have a strong immune system typically, making it easier for the organism to infect their body. They aren’t able to fight back as efficiently either, making the disease more deadly to them. Even the best elderly care often can’t prevent the serious health issues that pneumonia can cause.
Seniors are also more likely to struggle with pneumonia because often they are already dealing with other health conditions, such as respiratory issues, heart disease, dehydration and more. This makes an already bad case of pneumonia even more serious. Other risk factors include those with chronic diseases, smokers, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and those who have had organ transplants. All in all, seniors are quite likely to develop pneumonia, especially during the winter and spring months.
Symptoms of Pneumonia in Seniors
With pneumonia, the lungs become infected and the air sacs fill with fluid. This leads to a drop in the amount of oxygen that the lungs can process into the bloodstream. Without sufficient oxygen getting to the rest of the body, the elderly person can experience a number of health problems. Family members should not delay medical treatment for seniors that complain of respiratory symptoms.
Symptoms of pneumonia in elderly adults include fever, chills, coughing, yellow or green sputum, shortness of breath, pain in the chest, headache, dizziness, vomiting, and nausea. Because pneumonia is caused by any number of organisms, some of the symptoms may be more prominent than others. During an exam, the doctor will listen for gurgling in the lungs via a stethoscope. They may also order an x-ray or CT scan of the elderly person’s chest to further diagnose pneumonia for treatment.
The good news is that when properly supervised by family members, doctors, and others, seniors can recover from pneumonia. As part of an elder care plan, family members need to be quick to seek out medical treatment any time their elderly loved one appears to be having trouble breathing due to a respiratory illness. A chest cold, influenza, or other lung condition can turn into a case of pneumonia in no time at all.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Elder Care in Glencoe, IL, call the caring staff at LifeCare In-Home Care and Home Health Services. Call (888) 606-4199 LifeCare serves all of the Chicago Metro Area.
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