Preventing pneumonia in older adults is very important in times like these! Here are 6 tips to prevent your loved one falling ill.
1. Know the Symptoms of Pneumonia in Older Adults
According to the Infectious Disease Clinics of North America, there are often-times challenges as to the diagnosis of pneumonia in seniors because they may not suffer the classic symptoms like fever, chills and cough. It’s important to watch for non-respiratory symptoms like weakness, confusion, delirium or dizziness, or other, more vague symptoms — especially in those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which can impair the accurate reporting of pneumonia symptoms.
2. Practice Good Hand Hygiene
Ordinary respiratory infections, colds and influenza can sometimes lead to pneumonia; the Mayo Clinic advises that you wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer to help prevent the spread of these illnesses. “Good” hand washing techniques should include using an adequate amount of soap, rubbing the hands together to create friction, and rinsing under running water.
3. Practice Good Oral Care
Bacteria from the mouth can be aspirated into the lungs, especially in people who may not be able to swallow effectively. Good oral care such as brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste as well as flossing at least once a day will decrease the bacteria that could cause aspiration pneumonia.
4. Get Immunized
Both the Mayo Clinic and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute advise seniors and others at risk for pneumonia to get vaccinated against bacterial pneumococcal pneumonia. It’s a one-time vaccine that can prevent or reduce the severity of pneumonia. Your doctor may also suggest a booster vaccine after 5 years. It’s also a good idea to vaccinate seniors against influenza, which can lead to pneumonia.
5. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is a major risk factor for pneumonia — it greatly increases a person’s likelihood of getting the disease because it harms the ability of the lungs to defend against infection. According to Science Daily, smoking increases your chances of contracting pneumonia by 3 times! Quitting smoking can majorly help at-risk seniors defend against pneumonia.
6. Stay in Good General Health and be Active
Good overall health habits are critical to preventing pneumonia in seniors as well as the rest of the population because those habits keep the immune system strong and able to fight off infection. A healthy diet, as well as getting plenty of rest and physical exercise will decrease the risk of contracting pneumonia.
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