Breathing difficulties can make everyday physical activities, such as walking up a flight of stairs, difficult for some seniors. Pulmonary challenges can arise from changes in lung tissue, the nervous system, immune system, and bones or muscles of the chest and spine. The resulting lack of oxygen can lead to being out of breath often, regular wheezing, tiredness and even anxiety and depression.
In addition to asthma and COPD (which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis), medical conditions that may cause breathing difficulties are congestive heart failure, anemia, common cold, flu, pneumonia, sleep apnea and neurological disorders, e.g., stroke.
Guidance for seniors with breathing problems
Seniors who experience breathing difficulty should not simply accept it as an inevitable part of aging. They should see their family physician, who may recommend medication, appropriate light exercise or dietary changes, as well as treatment of related issues, such as anxiety or depression. Depending on the severity of the respiratory difficulty, the family doctor may refer them to a pulmonologist (lung specialist).
Country Meadows Retirement Communities offers the following tips suitable for anyone with breathing challenges:
- Don’t smoke. If you do, stop. See your doctor for a reputable smoking cessation program.
- Use all medicines—prescription and over-the-counter—as directed.
- Get immunizations. The flu vaccine is particularly important.
- Prevent infections by washing hands often and avoiding people who are ill.
- Eat fruits and vegetables, which contain vitamins that can strengthen the immune system.
- Move, as able, throughout the day. This can help prevent mucus building up in the lungs and increasing the risk of lung infection.
- Consider installing central air conditioning if you don’t already have it. Central air filters out airborne irritants as it cools the air.
Professional support for seniors with pulmonary challenges
Some families rely on home care providers to assist their breathing-challenged loved ones with activities of daily living, e.g., cooking, grocery shopping and housework. Other families decide on a senior assisted living or personal care home, where trained, experienced staff care for seniors with breathing issues and assist them with medication management, light exercise, eating properly and routine daily tasks, as well as transportation to doctor’s appointments. At Country Meadows, we also provide this type of specialized care to residents of our memory support neighborhoods.
In addition, senior living communities like Country Meadows rely on central air conditioning to create a healthy, comfortable indoor climate for residents in assisted living and personal care, memory support and our independent living communities.
The Country Meadows staff attends to every aspect of our residents’ health and well-being. If you are choosing a retirement community near you, we would like you to contact us. We can show you around any of our senior retirement homes and introduce you to our full range of services that one of our caring communities could offer you or your loved one. We have 10 Pennsylvania retirement homes—in Lancaster, Hershey, Mechanicsburg, Pittsburgh, Wyomissing, York-South, York-West, Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton—as well as a retirement community in Frederick, Maryland.