Approximately 2 million Americans 65 and older have asthma, a condition that can be difficult to manage at any age. From getting an accurate diagnosis–asthma is sometimes misdiagnosed as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in older patients–to finding an effective way to manage symptoms, asthma presents many unique challenges for seniors.
Diagnosing Asthma in Seniors
Diagnosis includes a review of all medications a senior is taking, along with a determination of the level of airway obstruction and the elimination or identification of other pulmonary diseases. Some seniors, for instance, have asthma that’s compounded by chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Symptoms associated with asthma include:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing or wheezing
Identifying Asthma Triggers
Asthma treatment for seniors usually includes minimizing contributing factors as much as possible. According to Jefferson County home care professionals, asthma episodes can be especially problematic for seniors since attacks may lead to respiratory failure. Common triggers include:
- Respiratory infections and viruses
- Excessive exercise or overexertion
- Allergens and high pollution days
Senior Asthma Treatments
Inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists are some of the long-term medications seniors may be prescribed. Quick-relief, or “rescue,” meds will also need to be kept on hand in case of an asthma attack.
Seniors with arthritis may have difficulty using an inhaler, so careful monitoring by part-time or live-in caregivers is important. There may also be some confusion over how much medicine to use with a nebulizer; and higher doses can have unintended consequences.
Caregivers are encouraged to look for possible asthma symptoms even when there’s no previous history of asthma since it’s not uncommon for the condition to develop later in life. If symptoms are getting worse, often evidenced by an increased use of rescue meds, frequent nighttime attacks, and the need for more medication refills, it’s time for caregivers to insist on a trip to the doctor.
If you are the primary caregiver for a senior relative, find additional support and resources by reaching out to Home Care Assistance. We offer a number of in-home care services, including dementia and Alzheimer’s care in Jefferson County, our caregivers are expertly trained, and our dedicated Care Managers are available 24/7. Call our office today at (303) 987-5992 and schedule an in-home consultation.