Pittsburgh / Allison Park Senior Care Blog

Signs of Pneumonia in the Elderly

By Erin Carll

Homecare in Pittsburgh PA

Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs caused by a bacterial or viral infection. It affects the elderly more than any other part of the population. The signs and symptoms can be almost negligible, making it hard to detect and get the prompt medical attention that is required. 

Why the Increased Susceptibility?

Several factors increase the elderly’s susceptibility to pneumonia. This includes a weakened immune system which does not attack the invading bacteria or virus with the same vigor as when previously detected in their youth. They may also have chronic conditions that mask pneumonia’s symptoms or leave them feeling poorly and unable to differentiate between the various illnesses. Certain medical conditions increase their risk; these include diabetes, Parkinson’s and lung diseases such as COPD.

What to Look For

Someone with a strong immune system will react to the pus developing in their lungs with a productive cough as their body tries to get rid of it. A weakened immune system cannot respond in this matter and, in many instances, a cough is not present.

Take note if your loved one complains of exhaustion, if their skin feels clammy, or if they are running a temperature. They may complain of a headache or feel chilled. You may notice that they tire and appear out of breath more readily. You may hear a slight wheezing. These symptoms may follow what you initially thought was a cold or flu.

Pneumonia is a medical emergency. For the elderly, it is considered to be in the same category as a heart attack as far as the need for immediate care. If you have any inclination that your parent may be fighting this disease, call their primary care physician or proceed to the hospital.


Though prevention is not always possible, there are certain steps you and your loved one can take to help boost the immune system. Eating a healthy diet filled with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables is important. Foods that are bright in color such as blueberries and colored chard are exceptionally high in this nutrient. Exercise at least 30 minutes 5 days a week. This can be as simple as a walk in the neighborhood. Find ways to decrease stress.

Home Care Provider

A home care provider can assist with the daily activities of living. They can accompany your loved one on walks and prepare immune-boosting meals. They can provide transportation as well as run errands such as shopping. And their assistance may just give you the time you need to recharge and lead a
balanced and healthy life while caring for your aging parent.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring homecare in Pittsburgh, PA, please call the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (412) 201-0712.