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How Asthma Impacts People over 65

By Mary-Frances Walsh, 9:00 am on

While asthma is often associated with the childhood years, the fact is that it’s a chronic illness and must be managed throughout life. While some seniors were diagnosed with asthma in their younger years, others develop the condition as they age. And for those over 65 with asthma, there are special considerations. Here are a few things to watch out for if you’re concerned about breathing difficulties in a loved one.

1. Asthma in seniors can be difficult to diagnose.

That’s because the normal effects of aging as well as conditions like heart disease and emphysema that are more prevalent in older adults mask the symptoms of asthma. In addition, it’s often mistaken for COPD, which is challenging since prevention and treatment strategies for that condition are quite different.

2. Asthma medications are more likely to have an adverse effect on seniors.

Older adults tend to experience unwanted side effects like increased risk for glaucoma at a higher rate than those younger than age 65. And because seniors often take multiple medications, there’s a much higher risk for adverse prescription interactions.

3. Seniors often develop a more severe form of asthma.

The natural changes in the shape of the lungs as we age can exacerbate the symptoms of asthma. And having asthma after age 65 decreases the effectiveness of vaccinations for the flu and pneumococcal virus, both of which can lead to dangerous complications in seniors.

4. Seniors can have trouble taking asthma medication properly.

Inhaled asthma medication must be timed precisely to work effectively. But symptoms of aging like arthritis and muscle weakness can make this process a challenge. If your older loved one has asthma, have a nurse or in-home caregiver monitor medication to ensure that they are using the inhaler correctly.

If you take care of a family member who is diagnosed with asthma, work closely with his or her doctor to develop a treatment plan that he or she can follow.

Learn more about senior health and wellness from the knowledgeable staff at Home Care Assistance. As a trusted provider of senior home care in Sonoma County, we ensure seniors have the at-home support necessary to maintain emotional, mental, and physical health while remaining in the comfort of home. Schedule a free in-home consultation today by calling (707) 843.4368 and speaking with a friendly Care Manager.