Owners' Blog

Things to Know About Pneumonia Care

By Greg and Hilary Eldridge

Senior Care near Roswell GA

Pneumonia is an abnormal inflammation of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites.  Liquid builds up in the tissue of the lungs and can cause the infection to spread throughout the entire body.  When providing senior care to a friend or loved one, here are some things you should know about pneumonia.

Pneumonia is the fourth leading cause of death among seniors.  Full recovery for older adults is lower compared to younger people and seniors who do recover have a greater chance of dying within the next several years.  Every year between 40,000 to 70,000 Americans die from pneumonia.

Seniors who are 65 and older are at a higher risk for developing pneumonia due to a weaker immune system or already existing medical conditions.  Chronic illnesses such as lung disease, emphysema, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS increase the risk for getting pneumonia.  Smoking releases harmful chemicals into the body further weakening the immune system.

Is It Contagious?

Many people are not sure if a person with pneumonia is contagious.  Pneumonia itself is not contagious but the bacteria or virus responsible for the development of pneumonia can be contagious.  Pneumonia can be contracted in the same way as the flu or common cold, such as people’s hands and by tiny droplets from their mouth or nose.

Symptoms of pneumonia caused by bacteria are:

  • Chest pain
  • Shallow, quick breaths
  • Fever
  • Coughing that produces a rust-colored or greenish mucus
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Chills
  • Lips turn a bluish color due to lack of oxygen in the bloodstream
  • Profuse sweating
  • Increased body temperature

Symptoms of viral pneumonia include:

  • Weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Lips turn blue
  • Breathlessness
  • Dry cough that may produce mucus with blood when it is more severe

Although seniors with pneumonia will be weak, getting them out of bed and moving for little bits at a time will be beneficial.  Little walks or daily functions like getting dressed will keep them active.  Sitting in a chair is better than constantly lying down because an upright position allows the lungs to expand more easily.  It also makes it easier to cough and clear the lungs.

Coughing is the body’s way of clearing infected mucus from the lungs.  By taking cough medicines that suppress the coughing you reduce the ability to fight infection. Cough medicines containing guaifenesin (Robitussin) make it easier to cough up phlegm.  Cough medicines that contain dextromethorphan can help reduce a dry cough.  Consult with a doctor or pharmacist about the condition of the individual in your care about what medicine is best.

Senior care for someone with pneumonia can be challenging, but monitor the symptoms and follow the doctor’s instructions.

If you or an aging loved one are looking for senior care in the home, contact the caring staff at Home Helpers of Alpharetta. Call today (678) 430-8511