Pneumonia 101: Symptoms, Risk Factors and How to Protect Your Senior Loved Ones

pneumoniaNovember is healthy lung month, so today our Arizona home health care experts want to focus on pneumonia: the symptoms, the risks, and steps you can take to protect your elder loved one from developing this potentially life-threatening illness.

There are many types of pneumonia; however, the most common type, pneumococcal pneumonia, refers to a bacterial infection in the lung. There are also multiple strains of pneumococcal pneumonia, and treatment options can vary based upon the particular strain a senior is experiencing.

Anyone of any age can develop pneumonia, but a person’s risk significantly increases after the age of 50, and that risk increases with each year thereafter. Those over age 50 are as much as eight times at risk of being hospitalized for pneumonia than those ages 18-49. Elders are at significant risk because the immune system diminishes as we age, as does healthy lung tissue. Risk is also much higher in smokers due to the damage caused to healthy lung tissue. Encouraging your elder loved one to stop smoking is an important step in pneumonia prevention.

The symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia develop quickly and may linger for weeks or even months. Symptoms may include cough, fever, chills, fatigue, difficulty breathing and chest pains. Symptoms of pneumonia usually strike without much warning and may result in hospitalization and even death.

Treatment involves use of antibiotics to eradicate the bacteria, including either (or both) oral or IV antibiotics. Symptoms such as fever, difficulty breathing and coughing are also treated with medications and other types of treatments. Some strains of pneumococcal pneumonia are resistant to antibiotics, making them especially difficult to combat.

One of the surest ways to prevent against a life-threatening case of pneumococcal pneumonia is to get vaccinated against it. If your elder loved one has not had the vaccine, check with his or her physician now about the vaccination.

For more information on keeping your senior loved ones healthy, contact the Phoenix home care experts at Nightingale Homecare. We’re happy to share more resources with you on ways you can maximize wellness, and to provide a full range of customized in-home care services to help further, such as:

  • Providing transportation and accompaniment for seniors to receive pneumonia, flu and shingles vaccines, medical appointments, and more
  • Picking up prescriptions and ensuring medications are taken exactly as prescribed
  • Preparing healthy, well-balanced meals
  • A full range of skilled nursing care services
  • And much, much more

Contact our Arizona home health care team at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!