Signs of Pneumonia in Older Adults

This winter, you should remain vigilant for signs of pneumonia in yourself and loved ones. Wintertime can cause pneumonia to run rampant, since individuals are more often indoors and in close contact with one another. Here at Senior Home Companions (SHC), we are very aware that pneumonia can affect older adults much more severely, so be sure to watch for these signs and treat them appropriately. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common signs of pneumonia include:

  • Chest pain upon breathing or coughing
  • Cough, which may produce green or yellow phlegm
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, sweating and chills
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath

In adults older than 65, additional pneumonia signs can include:

  • Confusion or changes in mental awareness
  • Lower than normal body temperature

Why are older adults more affected?

Seniors can be more affected by illness in general because of weakened immune systems. The flu and lung-related conditions are especially more likely to occur in the elderly, which can then develop into pneumonia.

Seniors are also more likely to have diabetes or heart disease, which can increase the risk of pneumonia. Older adults can also sometimes have difficulty producing a strong cough, which will help the body remove harmful germs or bacteria that may cause pneumonia.

How to prevent pneumonia or winter illness

The flu shot is generally a good idea for older adults, both for preventing the flu and because the flu can develop into other conditions like pneumonia. There is also a pneumococcal vaccine for seniors that can help prevent the bacteria that causes pneumonia.

Everyone, but especially older adults, should also practice good hygiene by washing hands often and keeping a clean home. Immune systems will benefit from a healthy diet and good sleep practices. Our caregivers at SHC can help their elderly clients with meal planning, cleaning and other household responsibilities in order to keep them healthy this winter.

If you think you have pneumonia

Get to the doctor as soon as possible if you recognize the signs of pneumonia in yourself or a loved one. Even if you are just experiencing a bad cold or the flu, it is easier to treat symptoms early rather than letting them develop into pneumonia or another serious illness. SHC companions are happy to take your loved ones to doctor appointments if they are unable to drive themselves or need assistance at the appointment.

If you are diagnosed with pneumonia, be sure to get lots of rest and take extra care of yourself. This includes getting a nutritious diet and staying hydrated. Pneumonia is known to recur, so it is extremely important to not rush back into a busy schedule, as well as to finish all prescribed medication. Companion caregivers from SHC can help seniors recover from pneumonia with medication reminders and medical care coordination.

Preventing pneumonia in your family this winter doesn’t have to be a burden. If you need assistance with an elderly parent or family member, contact Senior Home Companions today to discuss our services.