Save Lives, Learn the Signs

by Lois Etienne on February 21, 2012

in Senior Health and Safety

Every year more than 50,000 people die from pneumonia in the United States according to the latest CDC data. Sometimes, it is very sad to realize that elderly patients with pneumonia die in the hospital simply because they are brought in too late.

Washington State Senior WomanEarly symptoms of pneumonia in elderly are very subtle and can be missed even by healthcare providers. Family members and caregivers see their loved ones practically every day and maybe can detect those subtle changes. This is where the window of opportunity lies. But you need to know what to look for to be able to make sense of what you see.

When younger people have this disease in the lungs, they cough and complain of shortness of breath. The elderly may not be able to react that strongly but you might notice some subtle differences in the way they breathe. They may breathe more rapidly or may take shallow breaths or even may have a grunting noise with every breath. Instead of looking for the exact symptoms, just note if the breathing pattern has changed. Pneumonia is also a type of infection. Younger people react to most infections with fevers and chills. The immune system of the elderly may not be strong enough to mount a fever. But if you look carefully, you may see that their body is under stress and is trying to mount a fever like response. They may just feel cold or tired or sleepy or even confused.

If you can remember these simple principles and can get your loved one in to see a doctor sooner, maybe you could save lives.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: