Every year, around 544,000 people are hospitalized and 100,000 people because of pneumonia. It’s a serious lung infection that people age 65 and older are at greater risk for. It causes the air sacs in the lungs to fill up with fluid or pus, making it difficult to breathe. Because of the seriousness of the condition and the susceptibility of seniors to pneumonia, it’s important for family caregivers to be able to recognize its symptoms.
Pneumonia is an infection that can be caused by many different kinds of germs, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia can be airborne, so it’s possible to get pneumonia just by breathing. Normally, the body’s immune system fights off such germs, but occasionally the germs are too strong, and pneumonia occurs. That’s why people with weakened immune systems, like older adults, are more susceptible to it.
Doctors classify cases of pneumonia according to the kinds of germs that caused it and where the person likely contracted it. The classifications are:
- Community Acquired: This is the most common kind of pneumonia. It is contracted in places other than the hospital or health care facilities. Causes of this kind of pneumonia include bacteria, fungi, viruses, and bacteria-like organisms.
- Hospital Acquired: People with hospital acquired pneumonia get it while they are in the hospital for something else. The organisms that cause this kind of pneumonia may be harder to treat with antibiotics.
- Health Care Acquired: Health care acquired pneumonia is contracted in long-term care facilities and outpatient clinics. It may also be more resistant to treatment with antibiotics.
- Aspiration: Aspiration pneumonia happens when a person inhales something into their lungs, like food or drink.
It can be hard to differentiate pneumonia from cold and flu. According to WebMD, one way to tell the difference is that pneumonia “[comes] on slower than the but faster than a cold.”
Symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Pain in the chest when the person takes a breath or coughs.
- Fever with sweating and chills.
- Body temperature that is lower than usual.
- Feeling short of breath.
If your aging relative has pneumonia, elderly care can assist while they recover. Recovering from pneumonia requires a great deal of rest. Elderly care providers can take care of things around the house while the senior takes it easy. They can do things like clean the house and prepare meals. Elderly care providers can also remind the senior to take medications and drive them to medical appointments.
When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider caregivers provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.