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  • Bedford, NH 03110

What Do You Need to Know About Pneumonia: A Caregiver's Guide

Pneumonia is a serious lung infection that can affect anyone, but it is most common in older adults and people with weakened immune systems. If you are a caregiver for someone who has recently been diagnosed with pneumonia, you must understand the basics of this condition. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of pneumonia, the symptoms to watch for, and the best ways to support your loved one during the recovery period.

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a lung infection that occurs when fluid and debris accumulate in the lungs. This can be caused by a variety of different organisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Pneumonia can also be caused by environmental factors, such as smoke or chemical fumes. Pneumonia is a serious illness and can lead to respiratory failure, sepsis, and even death.
Pneumonia can be a huge risk to older adults. As we grow older, our immune system grows weaker, making our bodies susceptible to diseases. This is why in senior care, it is especially important to observe any signs and symptoms of pneumonia since the effects could be long-lasting and detrimental to the elderly.

What Causes Pneumonia in Older Adults?

Usually, people get pneumonia from someone close to them. For this reason, pneumonia in nursing homes can be very dangerous. Not only do people in nursing homes live close together, but they are also likely to have underlying conditions and be physically inactive.
The most common way of getting pneumonia is by catching it from someone else who is nearby. This especially is a huge risk in places like nursing homes and hospitals where pneumonia is easily contractible.

What Are the Symptoms of Pneumonia?

The symptoms of pneumonia can vary depending on the individual and the severity of their infection. However, some common symptoms include:

  • Coughing up greenish or yellow mucus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Sweating and shaking chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue

It is vital to carefully monitor elderly adults who belong to high-risk groups for pneumonia. These include those individuals that have a weakened immune system and who require proper care. By identifying these symptoms on time, it will be easy to fight the infection before it gets worse.

What Are the Risks of Pneumonia in Older Adults?

Terminal pneumonia could happen to any elderly adult since they are much more prone to pneumonia. There are significant risks to take note of, and as a caregiver, it is vital to observe these risks before it escalates. Here are the most significant risks:

Bacteria in the blood

The pneumonia bacteria in your lungs can spread to your blood and then onward to different parts of your body. The pneumonia bacteria found in your lungs can spread to your blood as the infection worsens and can also spread onward to other parts of your body.

Buildup of Fluid

One of the many side effects of Pneumonia is the build-up of fluid found in the chest cavity. There is a possibility that the fluid found in your lungs can become infected if not treated right away. Should this happen, the fluid should be drained or removed via a surgical procedure.

Ongoing breathing issues

Patients with severe pneumonia who are dealing with chronic lung issues also experience difficulty in breathing. A breathing machine is usually recommended during the healing process.

Abscesses Found in Lungs

An abscess usually occurs when pus is growing inside the chest cavity. Should this be the case, it can be treated with antibiotics. However, should the condition worsen, the pus needs to be drained with a long needle, or a surgical procedure is required to remove it.

How to Treat and Prevent Pneumonia in Seniors?

Treating Pneumonia

The treatment of pneumonia depends on the medical practitioner handling the case. Depending on the severity of the infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to the elderly patient as well as cough medicines and pain relievers. This works well in conjunction with oxygen therapy. Numerous breathing treatments work to help seniors who are suffering from pneumonia able to prevent the disease from escalating and inviting further health complications.

During recovery, seniors who have been diagnosed with pneumonia must commit to the medications prescribed by the doctor. This is where caregivers and family members come into play. They can carefully monitor the progression of their symptoms, allowing for quality recovery.

Preventing Pneumonia

To prevent pneumonia, there are steps that you can take to lessen the chances of contracting this respiratory infection. Elderly adults should consider getting a flu vaccine, for example, as a preventive measure to combat any possible respiratory illnesses. This, alongside a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle, can decrease the chances of pneumonia.

It is also advisable to avoid people who are ill, especially seniors who are susceptible to contracting pneumonia. Should they decide to travel, it's always best to practice caution as public places can compromise their health and immune system. It also helps to wash hands regularly and practice wearing medical-grade facial masks as this protects against harmful particles.

Caretakers and seniors must be aware of the hygiene and cleanliness of their patient's homes and must be sanitized as often as possible. Must, mildew, and molds are huge contributors to respiratory infections and can leave any elderly adult vulnerable to contracting this disease.

Caregiver's Role in Patients Recovering from Pneumonia

It can be frightening for seniors and their families to handle a pneumonia diagnosis. The alarming symptoms of this lung infection can last for months in older adults whose immune systems have grown much weaker over time. After a surgical procedure, the recovery period usually takes place in the hospital where medical care is easily accessible to seniors who have just recovered from pneumonia. However, once a senior is discharged from the hospital, it is possible to return home to continue recovery. This is where caregivers come into play.

Caregivers can provide a safe and sufficient recovery time to seniors who require their assistance. This also prevents the spread and infection of pneumonia. Here are some roles that caregivers play in the recovery process:

Provide Good Nutrition

It is common for elderly adults recovering from pneumonia to have a loss in appetite. This can be a challenge since proper nutrition is essential for recovery. Since fatigue is a common side effect associated with pneumonia, they may need help in planning their meals. A caregiver can help seniors plan healthy meals while keeping their nutrition in check. They can also assist in grocery shopping and ensuring that the kitchen is stocked.

This also works well in making sure the patient is not exposed to any food-borne illnesses during their recovery period. Caregivers can help clean and sanitize their homes to avoid any possible infections.

Managing Medication

It can be quite tricky to handle medication schedules especially if these medications have coinciding timings. Elderly adults who are in the recovery process may have a lot of maintenance medications prescribed to them. Although there are a lot of methods to keep track of medications such as pillboxes and calendars, this may still be a challenge for recovering seniors as they may not be able to do this on their own.

By having a caregiver, managing medication won't be as heavy of a burden for the patient since someone else is responsible for administering these medications to seniors on time and with the proper dosage.

Encouraging Fluid Intake

Another great thing about having a caregiver who not only provides well-balanced meals but can also remind pneumonia-stricken elderly patients to drink their fluids and stay hydrated while recovering. Water aids in proper digestion, flushes out toxins and waste, keeps your body hydrated, and more. Caregivers can encourage seniors to regularly drink their water and other fluids especially since this task can be burdensome to patients who are in the recovery process.

Being a Good Companion

Recovering from a serious illness like pneumonia usually requires close monitoring. Senior patients who are recovering at home need someone to monitor and provide companionship during the recovery process. This in turn can help elderly patients ward off any feelings of isolation and loneliness during this vulnerable period of their lives. Caregivers can think of productive activities to keep their patients entertained and preoccupied like reading books, playing simple games, watching a movie, or simply having a good conversation. Family members can also have peace of mind knowing that their elderly loved one is in good hands. Doctor's appointments and routine check-ups are also made easier with a caregiver since they can provide transportation and can take note of important details after each visit.

Contact BrightStar Care of Bedford/Manchester today!

Looking into caregiving services may be overwhelming, but with BrightStar Care of Bedford/Manchester, we ensure to make the process so much easier for you. We are confident that our team of professionals will assist you in looking for the right caregiver to take care of your loved one by keeping you in the loop and more. Contact us online or by phone at 603-945-0949 and by visiting us at our location Bedford, NH601 Riverway Place Bedford, NH 03110.