Pneumonia is an infection of the lung that occurs when the immune system is weak.
This infection affects the air sacs of the lung and can cause them to be filled with fluid or pus.
It is as horrible as it sounds and as a caregiver or adult child of an elder, this is one post you should pay attention to especially as flu season draws near.
As we grow older, our immune systems become weaker.
This makes your elderly loved one especially prone to microbial infections including pneumonia.
In this post we talk about what you can do as a caregiver or relative to prepare your elderly loved one for the flu season.
Coincidentally, pneumonia is also at its’ peak during this season of the year.
Thus, as you think about protecting yourself and your loved one from the flu this year, it is also important that you know pneumonia symptoms, so you can protect against that as well.
Pneumonia symptoms in older adults – What you should know
Look out for these pneumonia symptoms so you can act quickly.
- Complaints of chest pain when they breathe or cough
- Confusion and changes in mental awareness especially in adults older than 65
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomitting
- Shaking chills
- Extreme tiredness/fatigue
- Cough that may produce mucus and in severe cases pus
It is easy to dismiss any one of these symptoms.
But please err on the side of caution when it comes to pneumonia.
If your elderly loved one is exhibiting a combination of any of the above symptoms and it persists for more than 2 days, it is important that you see a doctor immediately.
Because pneumonia can be caused by a bacteria or virus, the earlier these “bugs” are treated, the better.
What you can do
What can you do to help your elderly loved one with pneumonia?
Encourage your loved one to see a doctor if they have persistent fever over 102F and a persistent cough or are coughing up pus.
If the doctors do determine that it is pneumonia, your loved one will most likely be given antibiotics/antimicrobial to help clear the infection.
Depending on the stage of the disease, hospitalization may not be necessary.
However, you will need to isolate them to prevent it from spreading to the whole family.
- Keep them in a private room.
- Encourage them to cover their mouth when coughing.
- Wash bed-sheets and clothes as soon as they come out of the private room.
- Keep younger children away from the sick elder. Younger children also tend to have vulnerable immune systems.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water if you touch your elderly loved one with pneumonia.
There are vaccines available against pneumonia.
Elders can receive vaccines around the same time they receive the flu vaccine.
Ask your healthcare provider about the pneumonia vaccine for your elderly loved one.
Another way to keep pneumonia away is to stay away from sick people.
Pneumonia is able to attack the lungs when immune defenses are down.
By staying away from people who are already sick, you keep yourself from causing a breakdown in your immune system in the first place.
During the winter, make sure your loved one is kept as warm as possible in their home.
Last but not least, it is important that you keep your immune system on the up and up by consuming more foods with vitamin C- which can be found abundantly in oranges, limes, kiwi, broccoli and strawberries. Moderate exercise also keeps your immune system healthy and ready to fight invaders.
As a caregiver, you can limit the incidence of pneumonia for your elderly loved one.
In this post, I shared pneumonia symptoms you should look out for and what you can do help your elderly loved one with pneumonia.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with someone else as we get closer to that part of the year.