It’s Healthy Lung Month, and the Scottsdale respite care experts at Nightingale Homecare want to make sure older adults maintain healthy lungs throughout aging! As we grow older, changes to all of the organs that impact breathing – lungs, muscles, and bones – can cause decline in lung function. These additional aging-related lung changes can affect seniors:
- A weakened diaphragm, which can make it harder to inhale and exhale when exercising
- Less sensitivity to foreign particles that can enter the airways, which means seniors may not have the urge to cough, allowing these particles to damage the lungs
- The bones in the ribcage are thinner and altered in shape, making it more difficult for the lungs to expand and contract
- Alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs) may lose their shape
- The immune system is weaker, making older adults more susceptible to infections that can lead to pneumonia
Changes such as these can lead to shortness of breath and fatigue; but there are a number of preventative measures that can be taken to protect the lungs:
- Quit smoking – or never start. Smoking causes significant damage to the lungs, and it’s crucial for older adults (and all of us!) to refrain from engaging in this dangerous habit. The American Lung Association offers help for those who want to quit.
- Stay active. Engage in regular physical activity to strengthen both the lungs and chest muscles. It’s also important to avoid spending too much time lying in bed, which causes fluids and mucous to settle in the lungs.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess body fat causes strain on the diaphragm, making it more difficult for the lungs to fully expand.
- Get vaccinated. All seniors should receive an annual flu shot, and ensure they’re up to date on pneumonia vaccinations.
- Avoid air pollutants. Healthy lungs can quickly deteriorate into damaged ones by breathing secondhand smoke, chemicals, and outdoor air pollution.
- Get routine checkups. Even when a senior is in the best of health, annual doctor visits (or as often as recommended by the physician) are crucial to maintaining good health, and to catching conditions such as lung disease early.
Let Nightingale Homecare’s home health care team help keep the seniors you love healthy and well! We offer a full range of skilled nursing, professional non-medical, in-home therapy, and many other home health care services that can address current needs and proactively plan for any potential concerns in the years to come.
Call us at (602) 504-1555 and request a complimentary in-home consultation. One of our registered nurses will perform an assessment to determine how to help seniors maintain healthy lungs and an overall healthier quality of life, while continuing to live safely and comfortably at home.