Four Major Respiratory & Pulmonary Diseases That Affect Seniors

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Breathing is something that comes natural to the human body. From infancy through adulthood breathing is a critical factor of living. The part of the body that is responsible for this is the human respiratory system. This system is composed of multiple organs that take in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. However, there are numerous chronic conditions that affect the respiratory system of older adults. These issues can be preventable, but need additional treatment from an Pulmonary Rehabilitation Therapist to ensure a healthy life.

For those who do not know what the acronym COPD is, it stands for, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It’s often described as chronic airflow limitations of the lungs. The professionals at Mayo Clinic explain the symptoms of COPD to include, “breathing difficulty, cough, mucus (sputum) production and wheezing.” Although 10% of people have some type of mild breathing issues, COPD is frequently found in older adults. According to Healthline the COPD is, “most often caused by smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. However, exposure to other lung irritants over time, such as air pollution and chemical fumes, can also contribute to the development of COPD.”

People with asthma also have airflow limitations due to inflammation of the lungs, which affects the human body from breathing properly. Asthma is often stimulated by allergens and irritants that cause obstruction of the airways. Many people over the age of 65 have asthma which can cause serious health issues.  According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), “older people with asthma often require higher doses of medication, and even during mild asthma attacks they are more likely to suffer from respiratory failure.” Although there is no cure for asthma, these issues can be treated by an Allergist.

Lung Cancer
Often correlated with cigarette smokers, lung cancer can affect anyone. However, those who smoke have a greater chance of getting lung cancer and an increased mortality rate. According to Mayo Clinic, “Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, among both men and women.” Seniors are especially susceptible to lung cancer and are commonly diagnosed at the age of 65-74. Treatment for seniors often depends on what stage of cancer their in, but could also be influenced by other diseases or illnesses. However, chemotherapy, diet lifestyle and exercises are appropriate treatments in individuals with lung cancer.        

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Commonly diagnosed at 66 years of age, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a diseases that causes the lungs to form scar tissue inside itself. This acute fibrosing interstitial lung disease, decreases the flow of oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream, that prevents the human body from operating correctly. According to WedMD, “Some people get pulmonary fibrosis when they’re exposed to something in their environment, like pollution, certain medicines, or an infection.”

Our Director of Patient Services, Marise Deaussou, explains that, “We educate our seniors on different types of respiratory diseases to help empower and prevent them from having these illnesses in the future.” At Renaissance Home Health Care and Adult Day Services, we host educational seminars that teach our clients about how to prevent and manage diseases they may be prone to. Not to mention, this allows them to foster a stronger and more enriched mind, body, and spirit.