By Patti Urban, 05/11/21
Nothing can stop our daily routines or favorite activities like an illness. Staying healthy and well is especially important for the physical and mental health of seniors. But, sometimes illness in unavoidable.
Even though pneumonia is a serious illness, it can often be successfully treated at home. Seniors, however, specifically, those with compromised immune systems or other health issues, may require hospitalization.
For those that do need to monitored and treated in a medical facility, being discharged from the hospital does not mean that recovery is complete. Pneumonia is particularly taxing on the body, resulting in a feeling of tiredness. It may take a while for an older adult to regain strength and feel good again.
The home recovery period can be crucial for pneumonia patients. In order to fully recover, it is important to follow the health care provider's directions. Seniors should be aware of their body and take note of changes they feel so they can contact their doctor at any sign of the illness coming back.
Home recovery can include continuation of an antibiotic, prescription medication, or a nebulizer for breathing treatments. Medicine, including every dose, should be taken for as long as it has been prescribed. Failure to do so may allow levels of bacteria to remain, grow and possibly cause a relapse. Drinking plenty of water can help and eating nutritious food to regain strength has an impact too. Additionally, cool mist humidifiers or vaporizers help keep the air moist inside the home and may make breathing easier and ease lingering coughs.
Seniors can expect a cough and general fatigue to last for some time after pneumonia subsides. It is essential for them to get ample sleep as well as proper nourishment during this time. Rest helps the body's healing process just as maintaining a healthy diet can boost the immune system. It is important that the senior not smoke and avoid spending time outdoors if there is smoke from a fire. This type of air pollution can hinder the breathing process and cause infection in the lungs. Alcohol consumption should also be avoided as it can inhibit the effectiveness of antibiotics.
Above all, seniors should remember to ask for help. Pneumonia recovery at home can be difficult to manage alone, and a helping hand from family, friends, or a professional caregiver or care manager can be critical for a successful recovery. For seniors and their loved ones, the goal is to get them back to good health so they can do the things they love – and sometimes, a helping hand can make all the difference.
Patti Urban, CSA, is the CEO of Aging Care Planning Solutions, a geriatric care management practice that assists the elderly and their families with advance care planning as well as guidance for patients with life-limiting illnesses. She is also a Certified End of Life Doula, a Certified Senior Advisor, and former Executive Director of a memory-care assisted living community. She can be reached at www.agingcarePS.com.