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What Might Have Caused Your Senior's Pneumonia?

Oct 31, 2018 by Nancy Hmieleski, RN, BSN Director of Nursing

Pneumonia can be a frightening experience for your aging parent, and for you as their family caregiver. This disease impacts approximately 3 million people throughout the United States each year, and elderly adults are at the highest risk. Not only are seniors more likely to contract this serious illness, but they are also more likely to experience tremendous consequences, and be at risk of death. By understanding what may cause pneumonia, you can be better prepared to help reduce your senior's risk, to recognize signs they may have contracted the sickness, and to be prepared to give them the care they need should they suffer the illness.

There are several potential causes of pneumonia. These can include:

  • Bacteria. While there are several potential forms of bacteria that can cause this sickness, in the United States the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is streptococcus pneumoniae. Your parent might develop bacterial pneumonia by itself, or it could develop as a result of cold or flu.
  • Bacteria-like organisms. Some organisms are similar to bacteria and create a form of pneumonia often referred to as walking pneumonia. This is a much milder version and rarely requires the extended bed rest of more serious versions.
  • Viruses. Some of the same viruses that can lead to flu and colds can lead to pneumonia. While viral forms of pneumonia are often less severe than those caused by bacteria, they can also develop into very serious cases.
  • Fungi. Most frequently seen in those with weakened immune systems, or who are living with chronic health issues, these cases of pneumonia are caused by organisms found in bird droppings or soil. They require inhalation of the organisms, and can be severe.

Senior adults are more vulnerable to illness and infection than younger adults due to immune systems that are not as effective. Health issues, medications, or treatments that further suppress their immune system, unhealthy eating, not enough exercise, and other issues can make them even more vulnerable. Fortunately, elder care can help. An elderly home care services provider can be with your aging parent when it is best for them to help them maintain better health and well-being throughout their later years. This elderly home care services provider can help your parent with germ control efforts, support good lifestyle choices such as healthy eating and regular hydration, and encourage your parent to stay active and engaged in the world around them. For you as a family caregiver, this can help you to feel more confident your parent will be able to stay healthier and safer as they age in place. 

If you or an elderly loved one are considering elder care in Clinton, NJ, or the surrounding areas, call the caring professionals at Comfort Keepers of Flemington, NJ. Call today (908) 806-2220.

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