Michele's Blog

Senior Care - Allergies

By Michele Scott

The temperatures are rising, trees are budding, daffodils are blooming and our beloved seniors can’t stop sneezing. April showers bring May flowers, but it’s just April 1st and the showers are more like storms backed with flooding rains, strong winds and a change in barometric pressure.

 Supporting seniors during allergy season can be challenging. As pollen fills the air, senior affected by seasonal allergies begin to suffer.  Many believe the elderly don’t get seasonal allergies, when in fact, in certain parts of the country they are just as likely if not more so to be affected when rain and beautiful spring blooms replace falling snow and freezing temperatures. Caregiver should be on the lookout for runny noses, itchy eyes and uncontrollable sneezing. 

The elderly often suffer ailments many of which have side effects similar to symptoms observed in allergies. Loss of appetite, headaches, mucosal discharge and coughs can mimic a common cold or the flue. Congestion and an irritated nose or throat can be extremely dangerous for a senior who has had a stroke or has a pre-existing cardiovascular or pulmonary condition. Because nasal problems are a common complaint in seniors, allergies are often thought to be sinus related, treated by a caregiver with a decongestant or antihistamine. These over-the-counter medications, if not prescribed by a doctor, can make them worse. 

There are things you can do to protect your loved ones from the side effects the “massive beauty” of the season brings. Keep doors and windows closed and turn on the air-conditioner. Although you’ve been waiting all winter to air-out the house as part of a spring-cleaning routine, keeping windows closed prevents pollen and mold from entering the home. Long sleeve clothes, hats and sun glasses can prevent pollen from getting into the eyes and on the skin.  Nutritionist suggest fruits, nuts, green vegetables and vitamin C to help fight inflammation. The American Geriatrics Society reports pollen, mold and or irritants can aggravate (and sometimes cause) serious health conditions.

Allergy season, like flu season won’t last forever, however a visit to their primary care physician is highly recommended. Because so many diseases, ailments and prescription drugs have similar symptoms, when the rains fall, trees bloom, and mom or dad just can’t stop sneezing, err on the side of caution. You’ll be glad you did.