Winter and early spring are the peak seasons for elderly adults to contract pneumonia. This lung infection can cause many different health issues in seniors and in many cases it can turn fatal. Seniors are particularly susceptible to pneumonia because their immune systems are weaker. They are more vulnerable after they’ve struggled with another illness, such as influenza or bronchitis.
Pneumonia in the elderly can be so severe that they end up in the hospital for treatment. While ill, elderly adults will need support from their family caregiver.
Why Are Seniors Hospitalized with Pneumonia?
While the majority of pneumonia patients can recover at home, there are significant numbers of elderly adults that are in danger of complications from the illness. With pneumonia, the air sacs of the lungs fill with fluid. As the air sacs lose their ability to function, the amount of oxygen that gets transferred to the blood stream lowers. Complications can arise when the body doesn’t get as much oxygen as it should. Infections can also move from the lungs to the bloodstream. Other negative side effects like dehydration and breathing difficulties can also cause a lot of health issues.
Doctors want to keep them at a hospital so they can be monitored regularly and given proper medication to help them recover. While in the hospital, the elderly adult will often take cough suppressants, fever reducer, antibiotics and anything else the doctor feels will help.
How Family Caregivers Can Help Hospitalized Relatives
If a family member with pneumonia has been admitted to a hospital, family caregivers can still provide assistance with elderly care. They should help monitor their elderly loved one’s condition and let doctors know of any changes. Because hospital doctors and nurses have lots of patients, they may not notice a subtle change in their condition. Acting as a patient advocate is important, especially for sick seniors that may not have the ability to speak up for themselves. When family members are present in the hospital, it can also bring comfort and peace of mind to the ailing senior.
When the elderly person is dismissed from the hospital after a pneumonia treatment, they need to have someone attend to them regularly to ensure their health condition doesn’t change. Pneumonia can flare up again in a short amount of time, so caregivers should be vigilant about looking for symptoms. Caregivers need to ensure their elderly loved one drinks lots of fluids and partakes of a healthy diet. Of course, any complications or change in their health means another trip to the doctor for an early diagnosis of a problem.
Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death for seniors because if it is not caught and treated early on, it can lead to serious problems. When family caregivers and elderly care assistants notify a doctor about the symptoms they are seeing in the elderly adult, the medical team can determine whether or not hospitalization is required to get them healthy and happy again in no time.