As we begin to experience winter weather, the chances of falling ill increase, especially among the elderly. Older adults are significantly more susceptible to winter illnesses like the common cold and flu. More surprisingly, however, is the danger of pneumonia. Pneumonia is a bacterial or viral infection that flares up in the lungs, causing our airways to fill with pus. According to the American Lung Association, nearly 85% of pneumonia-related deaths occur in older adults ages 65 and over. It’s important that older adults take the necessary steps to protect themselves from this dangerous illness. Here are some ways you can prevent pneumonia this winter season.
1. Get Vaccinated
If you or your loved one have never received the bacterial pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine, now is the time. This one-time vaccine helps prevent the chances of contracting pneumonia. Getting other immunizations, such as the flu shot, can also prevent the contraction of other illnesses that have a history of causing pneumonia, like the flu.
2. Wash Your Hands
We should always be washing our hands, but it’s especially important during the winter months. Our immune systems are put to work during the winter, and washing our hands helps prevent the spread of germs and illnesses. If you are going out for the day, make sure to bring some hand sanitizer with you!
3. Don’t Smoke
Pneumonia attacks the lungs and ingesting tobacco can weaken our lungs’ ability to fight off disease and infection. Plus, smoking can cause other health complications which can lead to cancer and other illnesses. If you do smoke, it’s extremely important that you get vaccinated since smokers are at greater risk.
4. Practice Healthy Habits
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle especially during the winter months will decrease your chances of contracting winter illnesses. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, exercise, stay on top of your medications, and eat a well balanced diet. Our bodies are more likely to be able to fight off illnesses when we take care of them by building strong immune systems.
5. Understand the Symptoms
If you can’t prevent pneumonia completely, it’s important to catch the illness early and seek medical attention immediately. Commonly, pneumonia presents itself though fevers, a heavy cough, and body chills. However, it’s not uncommon for older adults to experience different symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, and weakness. If you feel unwell, no matter the symptoms, make sure to make an appointment with your doctor immediately.
Our Carespring skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Northern Kentucky want all of our patients and their families to stay healthy this winter season! When it comes to fighting off cold weather illnesses, what do you do to stay healthy?