As we move closer to the winter season, it becomes very important to stay informed about one of the most dangerous infections for elderly people: pneumonia. It is also one of the most common illnesses in older adults as the Maerican Academy of Family Physicians reports that more than 60 percent of seniors over the age of 65 are admitted to hospitals due to pneumonia.
Here are five tips to prevent pneumonia as the season gets colder and wetter this year:
- Don’t Smoke – Smoking is one of the top risks for pneumonia, because it harms the ability of the lungs to defend against infection. Quitting smoking is a top defense mechanism against pneumonia.
- Get Immunized – Another great prevention tip is to advise seniors at risk to get vaccinated against bacterial pneumococcal pneumonia. It’s a one-time vaccine that can reduce the severity of pneumonia. The vaccination can also guard against other illnesses that can lead to pneumonia, like influenza.
- Be Aware of Symptoms – It can be difficult to diagnose pneumonia in seniors because they may not have the usual symptoms associated with the illness like fever, chills or cough. Pay attention for non-respiratory symptoms like confusion, delirium or dizziness. If unusual symptoms occur or there has been a change in one’s health, please see a doctor to get a full diagnosis.
- Engage in Good Hygiene Habits – Typical respiratory infections, colds and influenza can lead to pneumonia so make sure to wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer to avoid spreading those illnesses. Dental or oral infections can also lead to pneumonia so good dental hygiene is also recommended. Another important tip to avoid pneumonia in senior adults is to make sure to avoid others who are ill with the above illnesses.
- Stay in Good Health – Having good overall health is very important when preventing pneumonia and other illnesses because it keeps the immune system strong to fight off infection. Seniors need to practice healthy nutritional habits and incorporate physical activity and plenty of rest.