Asthma Problems among Seniors
Customized Care at Our Skilled Nursing Facility
Asthma is fairly common in adults over the age of 65, and when not treated, it can cause serious health problems. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging reports that more than 2 million Americans age 65 and older have asthma. Additionally, The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology points out that seniors are the fastest growing group, which is a matter of concern. To increase awareness among seniors and their caregivers, the health experts at our skilled nursing facility in Rhode Island offer a brief overview of this serious condition below.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways making breathing difficult. This results in coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Treating symptoms when you first notice them is important as it can prevent a severe attack which may require emergency care. Some severe asthma attacks can even be fatal.
How is Asthma different in older adults?
Asthma can develop at any age, even at 70 and 80 years of age. However, it typically poses a greater risk for seniors than young people. Here are 3 reasons why:
- Seniors with mild symptoms can have the same level of breathing difficulty as younger sufferers experiencing a severe episode.
- They are more likely to develop respiratory failure as a result of it.
- It is potentially more serious and disabling as it rarely goes into remission in older adults.
Diagnosing Asthma in Older People
Despite its prevalence, late onset asthma may be misdiagnosed and inadequately treated, with important negative consequences for the patient’s health. If you are experiencing any breathing problems or tightness in your chest, tell your doctor right away. Many older people do not mention this because they think it is just due to age, lack of fitness, being overweight, or some other health problem.
Your doctor may suggest several tests to determine if you have asthma. These include:
- Medical history and examination: Your healthcare provider will make note of your symptoms and medical history as well as check your breathing.
- A lung function test: This involves using a spirometer to measure how much air you can exhale after first taking a deep breath as well as how fast you can empty your lungs. You may be given a short-acting bronchodilator (to open your airways and clear any mucus) before or after the test.
- Methacholine challenge test: This is usually performed if your symptoms and spirometry test do not provide conclusive results. During this test, you will inhale increasing amounts of methacholine aerosol mist before and after spirometry to determine if your breathing problem is caused by asthma.
- Chest X-ray: A review of your lungs can tell your doctor if your symptoms are cause by a condition other than asthma.
Treating Asthma in Seniors
Although there is no cure right now, proper understanding and asthma management can help you or your elderly loved one live an active and normal life.
Properly using the asthma medication provided by your doctor, avoiding triggers and monitoring daily symptoms are essential to controlling asthma. There are two types of medication. Anti-inflammatories reduce swelling and mucus production in the airways, making them less likely to react to triggers. However, they may need to be taken for several weeks before they can help control your asthma. Bronchodilators relax muscle bands that tighten around the airways improving breathing. In short-acting forms, they can relieve or stop symptoms during an asthma attack.
At The Holiday Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Manville, Rhode Island, we provide personalized care to meet the unique health requirements of each of our residents. We do this with the help of customized care plans and a qualified and experienced team. Whether you are looking for short-term care or permanent stay, you can rely on us to care for your loved ones like our own. We are equipped with all of the features and services residents need to feel comfortable, safe and well looked-after. Since 1973, we have been caring for families just like yours.
Give us a call at 401-765-1440 for more information about our skilled nursing facility in Manville, Rhode Island or fill out this online form to book a tour.