Pneumonia is an infection that takes root in your senior’s lungs. Your senior could have pneumonia in one lung or in both at the same time. The real danger with pneumonia can be when your senior’s lungs start collecting fluid. This typically leads to shortness of breath and can become life threatening very rapidly.
After a Viral Respiratory Infection
Most people think about bacteria when they think about pneumonia, but it’s also caused by viruses. In fact, after a viral respiratory infection like the common cold, your senior can breath viral particles deeper into her lungs. These viral particles can take advantage of your senior’s already taxed immune system and start replicating, becoming pneumonia.
By Breathing Bacteria into Her Body
Bacterial pneumonia is one of the most common types of pneumonia. Your senior can catch this from bacteria that are stopped in her nose by the fine hairs there just for this purpose if they manage to make their way down into her lungs. Also, if your senior is around other people who are sick from bacterial respiratory infections, she may breathe their particles into her lungs and become ill.
Touch Transfer from a Contaminated Area
Not all people are great about hand washing, unfortunately. And sometimes people do things like cough on their hand and then touch a doorknob or a handrail. If your senior touches that spot afterward and then touches her face, she runs the risk of those same bacteria entering her body and making her sick, too. This is why hand washing, hand sanitizer, and breaking the habit of touching her face are so important for your senior.
Breathing Food Particles into the Lungs
Another type of pneumonia is called aspiration pneumonia. It happens when stomach fluids or food particles get breathed into your senior’s lungs. For some seniors this happens at night when they sleep, particularly if they have issues with their stomach sphincter not closing fully. Other seniors have issues swallowing, and this can allow food to get into the lungs.
Pneumonia is nothing to play around with for your senior. In fact, too many seniors have pneumonia and don’t realize it. If your elderly family member does develop pneumonia, she needs to rest and heal. Hiring elder care providers to help her with daily tasks can allow her to do just that. They can also be there if she has other needs beyond recovering from her bout of pneumonia.