Because the impact of pneumonia is far greater on seniors than it is on other age groups, it’s important for families to help their elderly loved ones remain healthy and stave off this serious illness. Prescott elder home care professionals discuss 4 ways your loved one can prevent pneumonia.
1. Maintain Good Hygiene
Pneumonia can easily develop following a viral or bacterial respiratory infection such as a cold or the flu. Be diligent in washing your hands thoroughly or using hand sanitizer, and encourage your loved one to do the same. Dental infections are another common cause of pneumonia. Practicing good oral hygiene and regular dental visits can decrease the number of bacteria in the mouth and reduce your loved one’s risk of pneumonia. You should also encourage your loved one to avoid crowded spaces and people who are ill during the height of cold and flu season.
2. Get Vaccinated
Encourage your loved one to get the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. This vaccine is normally given one time, but some seniors may also require a booster after 5 years. An annual influenza vaccine can also help prevent the flu, which is a common cause of pneumonia in seniors.
3. Quit Smoking
Smokers are far more likely to develop pneumonia than nonsmokers because smoking makes the lungs more susceptible to opportunistic infections. If your loved one is having difficulty giving up smoking, encourage him or her to consult a doctor to discuss various cessation therapies, including nicotine replacements, medications, and support groups.
4. Live a Healthy Lifestyle
An overall healthy lifestyle boosts the body’s immune system so it can defend against viral and bacterial infections that can lead to pneumonia. Living healthily includes eating nutritious foods, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of rest. Physical exercise is also a powerful immunity booster that promotes deeper breathing and better oxygenation.
Some seniors do not exhibit the cough, fever, and chills normally associated with pneumonia. Be on the lookout for early non-respiratory symptoms, including
- Generalized weakness
It is important to remember seniors with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia may have difficulty articulating their symptoms and may only convey a vague feeling of being unwell.
As important as it is for seniors to stay focused on healthy living, some may need extra motivation. At Home Care Assistance, we offer a program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat well, exercise regularly, and pay mind to other lifestyle factors that can increase their life expectancy. We also offer comprehensive Parkinson’s, stroke, and dementia home care Prescott families count on. For more information on our in-home care services, please call (928) 771-0105 to schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified Care Managers.