Influenza (the flu) and pneumonia are considered in this article, not because they are specifically senior illnesses, but because seniors are more susceptible to them than younger people, and seniors have a more difficult time recovering from influenza and pneumonia.
The flu is a common cause of pneumonia, but most cases of the flu do not lead to pneumonia. However, those cases of flu that do lead to pneumonia tend to be more severe and can be deadly.
Let’s take a look at the risk factors for pneumonia. Some risk factors we can control more than others.
Our age. Getting older is a good thing, but it does increase our risk of contracting illnesses that diminish our health. That’s because our immune system loses its vitality as we age, and thus, we become less able to fight off diseases and infections.
Our environment. The air we breathe is filled with dust, pollution, and sometimes chemicals and toxic fumes, which tend to weaken our lungs and thus make them more vulnerable to infection.
Our immune system. As suggested earlier, aging tends to weaken the immune system. Particularly vulnerable are people who have had HIV/AIDS, long-term steroid use, are receiving chemotherapy, have had an organ transplant, or have long-term steroid use.
Have been hospitalized, especially in ICU. Being on a ventilator increases our risk because a ventilator makes it harder to cough and can trap germs that can cause lung infections.
The following conditions also contribute to a greater risk of pneumonia:
None of us is sitting around hoping to get pneumonia. What are some behaviors we can adopt to help us avoid succumbing to the disease? The following suggestions will prove to be helpful:
If we find ourselves at home and suffering from pneumonia, here are some suggestions we might find helpful:
Even as seniors, we still have choices to help maximize our health and live our lives to the maximum!
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