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5/12/2020

Caring for a Senior with a Respiratory Condition During the COVID-19 Pandemic

For older adults with respiratory conditions, Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be frightening. Others might be able to ignore a cough, some wheezing, difficulty breathing, or minor chest pain, but given the number of senior adults affected, those symptoms cannot be ignored. Some difficulty breathing is normal as one ages, but it can also indicate an underlying respiratory condition like:

  • asthma
  • chronic bronchitis
  • emphysema
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • or other serious lung conditions

Living with a pulmonary (“relating to the lungs”) illness is challenging and often exhausting, not only to the one diagnosed, but also for the caregivers involved. With the addition of COVID-19, the difficulty rises. With professional guidance and tips, caregivers can help their loved ones with respiratory conditions during the coronavirus outbreak and into the future. Simply recognizing signs of worsening conditions can help avoid medical emergencies.

The Personal Health Journal

Personal Health Journal for Seniors

Keeping track of wellness information for your loved one can be complicated when multiple family members and caregivers are involved. A personal health journal, kept at their residence, can provide accurate, up-to-the minute information when caregivers change. Consider including medications with doses, times, and any adverse or improvements in symptoms such as:

  • Patterns of breathing like easy, difficult and coughing
  • blood pressure
  • heart rate
  • oxygen saturation
  • respiratory rate
  • activities and their effects on breathing
  • dietary changes and digestive issues
  • and sleep quality

Consistently tracking activities, treatments, and symptoms, helps the caregivers, family members and  the medical professionals who care for the senior adult. 

Dietary Recommendations for Those with Respiratory Conditions 

The American Lung Association recommends a healthy and nutrient-filled diet, as well as these tips:

  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals during the day puts less pressure on the diaphragm, helps avoid bloating, and allows those with a respiratory condition to breathe easier.
  • Resting before meals can also help, as can avoiding foods which cause gas.
  • A variety of nutritious foods which can help them maintain a healthy weight.

 

Exercise and Activity for Those with Respiratory Conditions

Exercise for Seniors Respiratory Conditions Broward County

Daily living activities along with regular light exercise can help improve your loved one’s:

  • sleep quality
  • blood oxygen levels
  • and even cardiovascular function

While they may be resistant due to shortness of breath, encourage them to perform some light stretching exercises allowing them to rest as needed, no matter how simple the activity. Preserving their independence will go a long way in helping them remain healthy and active.

Air Quality Concerns 

  • Reducing exposure to contaminants and allergens is crucial for those with respiratory conditions.
  • Alleviate second-hand smoke.
  • Remove allergens, mold, and chemicals which may exacerbate flare-ups of your loved one’s condition.
  • Ensure your loved one’s home stays clean with regular dusting and vacuuming, as well as wiping down surfaces with an appropriate sanitizer/disinfectant regularly.
  • Using a vacuum with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter can help minimize irritants.
  • Be sure to change HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) filters in the home on a regular schedule, as well.

 

Call for Help When Needed

Because your loved one is living with a respiratory condition, he or she may be more susceptible to complications from the cold, flu, and the novel coronavirus.

You should contact your loved one’s physician if you see:

  • increased difficulty breathing or fatigue
  • increased coughing; excess mucus
  • swollen feet, hands, or ankles;
  • shortness of breath
  • muscle cramping
  • weakness

Contact your loved one’s physician immediately if you see symptoms of COVID-19.

Do You or Your Loved One Need Help During the Pandemic Because of a Respiratory
Condition?

At Nursing Plus of Broward, providers of physician house calls in Fort Lauderdale FL, we can help with our expert and caring team of RNs, LPNs, Physical and Occupational Therapists, Home Health Aides, and Medical Social Workers.

Our goal with our caregiver services in Fort Lauderdale is to help seniors stay happily and safely in their own homes and allow family members to take the breaks needed while assured that their loved one is safe and well-cared for. Our medical professionals and health experts can answer any questions you have and guide you in making crucial decisions regarding senior care. Contact us today!

 

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