With the winter months approaching and COVID-19 still looming large, avoiding lung disease has never been more crucial. The colder, drier months are a prime time for respiratory illnesses, as unpleasant weather forces us into closer quarters, and the lack of humidity makes viruses easier to spread.
Last month, we discussed some simple ways to purify the air you breathe and keep your lungs in peak condition. But sometimes, these daily health tips don’t go far enough. Illness can strike even the most robust pair of lungs. Knowing the warning signs can be just as important as staying healthy in the first place. Seniors especially should take extra precautions and remain educated about common respiratory diseases. Of the one in seven older adults suffering from lung disease, a third of that number experience moderate to severe symptoms. Even more troubling is the fact that one third of all deaths in seniors result from infectious diseases.
By knowing what to look for and how to protect themselves, seniors can go into the winter months with confidence about their health.
COVID-19 and the Flu
With COVID-19 still circulating widely, people are more aware of the dangers of respiratory illness than ever. However, it’s important not to discount COVID-19’s more common cousin: influenza. The flu is an ever-present danger for seniors, with 70 to 85 percent of flu-related deaths occurring in people over 65.
Keeping up with the usual guidelines about preventing the spread of COVID-19 can also help protect you from the flu. Maintain six feet of distance between people outside of your family group, avoid touching your face, wash your hands frequently, and wear a mask when out in public. These simple steps make it a lot harder for viruses to spread and keep you safe while you hunker down this winter.
Though it may bring to mind a nineteenth-century widow discreetly coughing blood into a handkerchief, tuberculosis is a danger in the modern day. Whereas a virus causes the flu and COVID-19, tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that most commonly affects the lungs. TB is the most deadly infectious disease in the world, causing 1.5 million deaths each year.
The bacteria spreads through the air when a person breathes, coughs, or speaks. However, tuberculosis cannot spread through physical contact; you could even share a toothbrush with a person with TB without contracting the disease (though it would still be pretty unhygienic). The disease spreads most easily in close quarters with infected people. Symptoms include a bad cough lasting three weeks or longer, coughing up blood, weakness, weight loss, and fever. However, in between 30 and 50 percent of cases, a person infected with tuberculosis bacteria doesn’t present any symptoms. A high number of seniors are diagnosed with tuberculosis only during an autopsy. When diagnosed early, tuberculosis is easily treatable. Seeking help as soon as possible is key to fighting this severe lung disease.
Pneumonia is an infection that causes air sacs in the lungs to fill up with fluid. Often pneumonia can arise as a complication from other types of lung disease. More than 30 different organisms are responsible for the different kinds of pneumonia, all of which generally spread through the air. Like many other respiratory infections, pneumonia symptoms involve weakness, chest pain, a wet cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Pneumonia has an exceptionally high mortality rate for seniors — as high as 20 percent for severe cases. . Practicing hand-washing, masking, and social distancing is a great way to avoid contracting a respiratory illness that could lead to pneumonia. A one-time pneumococcal vaccine can also help seniors stay safe from this dangerous condition.
In-Home Care Keeps Seniors Safe
Remaining quarantined from the source of serious diseases is the most effective way to stay healthy. However, seniors are more at risk of the dangers of isolation than any other age group. The threat of a bad fall is all the more frightening when seniors live alone and can’t be sure when someone will discover them after an injury. Torn between concerns about staying at home and going out, seniors can feel like there’s no good option.
An in-home caregiver provides the best of both worlds. They allow seniors to remain at home, isolated from the cause of dangerous illnesses while not being cut-off from human contact. A caregiver provides check-ins, helps with food preparation and other daily tasks, and keeps track of medication. Generations Home Care screens its caregivers for COVID-19 before every shift, so clients know they’re staying protected from the disease. Having a caregiver at home keeps seniors healthy on the day-to-day, which keeps them safer in the grander scheme. With Generations Home Care, loved ones know that the seniors in their lives are getting the best care imaginable.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.