Leesburg Senior Home Care Blog

Does My Aging Parent Have Pneumonia?

By Kaltoon Essa

Aging adults have a high risk of developing pneumonia, an infection in the lungs that can lead to serious health issues and even death. The Centers for Disease Control, more than 50,000 elderly Americans die each year of complications from pneumonia. Family caregivers need to learn about the symptoms of this serious illness, so they can get their relatives some medical treatment. Anyone who assists with care, such as elder care providers, family members and friends should also be aware of common pneumonia symptoms.

It can be a challenge to recognize the early signs of pneumonia in an aging adult. The manifestation of symptoms really depends on the elderly adult’s current health and strength. Also, some of the symptoms mimic other age-related conditions, making it more difficult to determine what’s going on. Here’s a list of the common symptoms of pneumonia as it frequently manifests in elderly adults.


Because pneumonia is characterized by fluid filling up the air sacs in the lungs, it makes sense that wheezing is one of the symptoms. Many seniors also engage in rapid breathing as they struggle to get enough air into their lungs.

Intense Coughing

Pneumonia causes seniors to frequently cough, bringing phlegm up from the lungs. These wet, or productive, coughs seem to only bring temporary relief to the elderly person. Many seniors may experience chest pain when breathing deeply to worth through a cough.

Chest Pain

Seniors who complain about a pain in their chest or in their side may also be referring to this lesser known pneumonia symptoms. The excessive coughing can lead to strained muscles around the lungs and into the side of the body. In some cases, seniors cough so hard that they fracture a rib.


Pneumonia is a lung infection, which means the body tries to fight it in any way possible. The presence of a low-grade fever, usually between 99 degrees F and 101 degrees F is a good indication that the aging adult is battling pneumonia.


Elderly adults with pneumonia are often left with overwhelming fatigue. Because this is a symptom for so many illnesses, it’s easy to overlook it as a pneumonia symptom. If the elderly person develops pneumonia, they may feel drained of energy.


With pneumonia, the body and the brain are not getting enough oxygen. The elderly person may demonstrate confusion over basic things and seem to live in a foggy state.

If any of these symptoms appear in an elderly person, it’s up to the family caregiver and elder care provider to report it to a doctor or to a family member. Early diagnosis is the key to a quicker recovery and to keep the senior out of the hospital.

If you are considering elder care in Purcellville, VA, for an elderly loved one, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers Home Care in Leesburg. (703) 297-4642.