Pneumonia is a type of lung infection that causes the lungs to fill up with fluid, resulting in breathing difficulty, coughs, fevers, and chills. Seniors often end up developing pneumonia after experiencing some other health issue, and this type of respiratory infection can be challenging to treat. Here are four things you can do to reduce your senior loved one’s chances of ending up with pneumonia.
1. Recommend Getting the Pneumonia Vaccine
There are all sorts of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause pneumonia, so it’s impossible to get vaccinated for all of them. However, there are a few key vaccinations seniors should get. Anyone over the age of 65 should get the vaccination that protects against the pneumococcus bacteria, which is the most common cause of pneumonia. It’s also a great idea to get vaccinations for the flu, pertussis, measles, and other illnesses that can lead to pneumonia. Talk to a doctor to find out the right types of vaccinations for your loved one.
2. Discourage Smoking and Excessive Drinking
Pneumonia is far more common in those who overuse alcohol or smoke cigarettes. Both are risk factors for pneumonia because they weaken overall health and make the body susceptible to illness. Seniors should have no more than seven alcoholic beverages a week and no more than two per day. It’s also wise to stop smoking altogether. Quitting can be tricky for seniors who have been smoking all their lives, but modern substitutes such as nicotine lozenges and e-cigarettes make it easier.
3. Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle
Pneumonia is far more common among those who are already frail and ill, so you should do everything you can to build up your loved one’s health. Make sure your loved one gets plenty of sleep each night, and encourage him or her to do gentle exercises during the day. Help your loved one maintain a healthy weight by serving plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and fiber. If your loved one has a health condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, follow the doctor’s advice to properly manage the condition. Following an illness or surgery, try to keep your loved one’s head elevated, encourage him or her to get active again as soon as possible, and provide plenty of fluids.
Maintaining healthy habits may be a challenge for some seniors, and a professional caregiver can be a great resource for elderly people in El Cajon. In-home care benefits seniors and their families by providing highly trained caregivers who can prepare nutritious meals, assist with exercise, provide social and mental stimulation, and help with a variety of everyday tasks.
4. Promote Good Hygiene
Being as hygienic as possible around seniors is always a good idea, since aging tends to weaken the immune system and increase susceptibility to contagious illnesses. It’s especially important if you want to reduce your loved one’s risk of developing pneumonia. Frequently wash your loved one’s hands with warm water and antibacterial soap, and make sure anyone who comes into contact with him or her does the same. Washing the hands is particularly important before preparing and eating food and after using the bathroom, going out in public, and blowing the nose. Your loved one should try to avoid being around those who are sick.
The best way to treat pneumonia is to prevent it, especially in seniors. If your loved one needs help maintaining the kind of healthy habits that prevent disease, consider hiring a professional caregiver to provide compassionate home care. El Cajon families looking for caregivers who are trained to help seniors exercise, eat nutritious meals, and focus on other healthy lifestyle factors can trust the experienced professionals from Coast Care Partners. Reach out to us today at 619-354-2544 to learn about the high quality of our home care services for seniors.