Pneumonia can be dangerous for individuals of any age, however, the elderly are particularly vulnerable and at a higher risk of serious complications, or even death. Each year in the U.S., approximately one million people visit the hospital with pneumonia-related symptoms, and about 85% of the 50,000 who lose their lives because of this infection are seniors. As a San Francisco Bay Area home caregiving agency, we want those with aging loved ones to know how you can help prevent pneumonia in the elderly, and recognize the signs.
Common symptoms of pneumonia include a sharp or "stabbing" pain when coughing, chills, headache, fever, and difficulty breathing. Not all people have these symptoms. and seniors often experience confusion, weakness, or dizziness, and may not have a cough or any respiratory symptoms.
Can the flu, bronchitis or even a cold result in pneumonia?
Yes, as any of these conditions weaken the immune system and impact the respiratory system. It's important to practice habits such as washing hands, getting sufficient rest, and eating a healthy diet at all times, but especially when seniors have a cold or other respiratory infection. Avoiding contact with others who are sick is important as well, although it may be difficult in some situations. Limit exposure as much as possible.
What can you do to help prevent pneumonia?
While it's impossible to prevent any risk of developing pneumonia, there are certain things seniors should do to help protect against it. For instance, improving health and hygiene, as mentioned above, is important. Staying active also helps, and most important of all, is getting vaccinated, for those 65 or older. Seniors should get an annual flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine in order to reduce the risk and potentially serious or even deadly complications, although vaccinations are still not a guarantee. However, getting a pneumonia vaccination can substantially reduce the severity of symptoms and ward off potentially life-threatening complications.
If you're an adult child of an aging parent, it's important that you make sure your mom or dad is eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of rest, and living a healthy lifestyle in general, while trying to avoid contact with others who have respiratory infections. Above all, make sure your loved one gets a pneumonia and flu vaccine.
At Care Indeed, we believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Our in home senior care experts provide seniors in Palo Alto, San Jose, Walnut Creek and surrounding cities in the Bay Area with trusted, compassionate care, customized to the unique needs of their families.
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