One of the most important things we can do as we age is taking care of our vital organs. Among the most critical are the heart, brain and lungs. The latter, respiratory health, is important for healthy aging. In fact, we rarely even think about breathing -- until it becomes a struggle.
WebMD reports that lung diseases are some of the most common medical conditions in the world with millions of people reporting lung disease in the U.S. alone. Here are some tips to keep your lungs as healthy as possible.
Basic Precautions For Your Respiratory Health
Besides following a physician-approved diet and exercise regimen, there are several things you can do to ensure good respiratory health. First, if you haven’t already, get vaccinated -- for COVID-19 and the flu, both of which can be deadly.
Other basic health precautions like washing your hands, avoiding unhealthy air environments and not smoking or being around second-hand smoke are all key to good lung health.
These basic steps will also help reduce the risk of pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening lung infection illness. The Mayo Clinic reports that pneumonia is most serious for infants, young children and adults older than 65. Those with weakened immune systems are most at risk. You can get vaccinated for most types of pneumonia. The PCV13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) protects against 13 of the approximately 90 types of pneumococcal bacteria that can cause the most serious types of pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia, meningitis and bacteremia.
Coping With COPD
Affecting more than 16 million people in the U.S., Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a collection of progressive lung diseases like emphysema and bronchitis. COPD becomes more severe and more common as we age.
There are four stages of COPD ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, wheezing, tightness in your chest and a chronic cough. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, see your physician and inform your in-home health provider right away.
Fortunately, seniors can often reduce their COPD risk with proper lifestyle management -- and with in-home caregivers. In-home caregivers can assist with developing home health programs, preparing a proper diet as well as encouraging and assisting with physical activity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that since 2000, more women than men have died from COPD -- and that chronic lung disease, including COPD, was the fourth largest cause of death for women in the United States. In fact, CDC data shows that death rates for COPD have been reduced in men, but not for women.
The CDC believes that since women are often diagnosed with COPD later in life, the treatment for the disease is much less predictable and effective. Adds the CDC, “women also seem to be more vulnerable to the effects of tobacco and other harmful substances” and “there also appear to be differences in how women and men respond to different treatments.”
Armed with this information, we should all be aware of COPD warning signs in men -- and women. It will, after all, help us breathe easier as we age.
How Comfort Keepers Can Help
As part of a healthcare team, our in-home caregivers can assist with activities that help maintain vitality in aging adults and/or reduce the risk for seniors with respiratory issues. Comfort Keepers caregivers can help by supporting physician-recommended health programs, preparing meals, encouraging prescribed physical activity, reminding seniors to take medications, and providing transportation to scheduled appointments.
Call us today to discuss the right care plan for you or your loved one!