How to Reduce Your Elderly Loved One’s Risk of Getting Pneumonia

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During wintertime, it is especially important for families providing Mississauga senior care to help protect their elderly loved ones against pneumonia. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to help reduce your loved one’s risk of developing this severe illness.

Make Sure Your Loved One Is Immunized

Seniors over the age of 65 are more susceptible to developing pneumonia. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Mayo Clinic recommend seniors get vaccinated against bacterial pneumococcal pneumonia, which can prevent or reduce the severity of pneumonia symptoms. Though normally only given once, your loved one’s doctor may recommend a booster for this vaccine in 5 years. You should also encourage your loved one to get vaccinated for influenza, which can quickly turn into secondary pneumonia.

Encourage Proper Hand Hygiene

Colds, flu, and other respiratory infections that can lead to pneumonia are common in the winter months. These infections are easily passed from person to person by coughing, sneezing, and touching contaminated objects. Encourage your loved one to wash his or her hands or use sanitizer frequently, especially after visiting crowded places. You should also advise your loved one to avoid contact with anyone who is ill.

Allow Natural Coughing When Minor Illnesses Are Present

A cough can have healthy results when your loved one has a minor respiratory infection. Coughing helps break up mucous and other secretions that can build up in the lungs and lead to bacterial infection, including pneumonia. If your loved one has difficulty sleeping because of a cough, you can try giving him or her a dose of over-the-counter cough suppressant at bedtime.

Convince Your Loved One to Stop Smoking

Studies show people who smoke a pack a day are 3 times more likely to develop pneumonia than nonsmokers. Smoking causes oxidative stress and changes how inflammatory cells respond to infections in the lungs. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce your loved one’s chances of developing pneumonia as well as a host of other health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Watch for Symptoms

The typical symptoms of pneumonia include coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, chills, fever, and fatigue. The elderly, especially those with dementia, may also exhibit vague symptoms such as delirium, increased confusion, and dizziness. If your loved one has any of these symptoms, you should take him or her to see a doctor as soon as possible.

In addition to guarding your loved one against pneumonia, it’s also important to keep his or her overall health in mind. Help promote your loved one’s health and safety by hiring a professional in-home caregiver. At Home Care Assistance, we understand families want to ensure their elderly loved ones are safe and comfortable while aging in place. Because of this, we train all of our caregivers in the proprietary Balanced Care Method, an evidence-based program designed to promote healthy living. For seniors who need more comprehensive care, we also offer specialized dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care in Mississauga. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, please call one of our qualified Care Managers at (905) 337-1200 today.