For many people, growing old can present physical challenges. One common physical challenge that an elderly person may face is increased breathing difficulty. While people of all ages can experience trouble breathing for a variety of reasons, these issues can become more pronounced with age. On this page, I will describe some of the common lung issues that an elderly person may face, as well as proper treatment in nursing homes for these illnesses. This can help you determine your loved one’s care and make sure that it is adequate. Your loved one may suffer from many lung-related conditions including one of the following.
This is a fairly common condition that affects people of all ages. Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing is restricted or obstructed for 10 seconds or more at a time during sleep. This issue can cause fatigue and drowsiness while awake, along with more serious issues such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, heart arrhythmia, and more.
If your loved one has sleep apnea, the nursing home should discuss potential treatment options with your family. Common treatment options include:
- Wearing a mask while sleeping to improve continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
- Medical device that holds the jaw in place during sleeping, promoting positive breathing.
- Surgery is an option in severe cases where an oral appliance or CPAP do not work.
Your loved one should receive one of these treatment options, or a suitable alternative, in the nursing home that he or she lives in. Also, nurses and doctors are in charge of:
- Making sure that your loved one remembers to wear their mask or oral appliance at night.
- Helping your loved one use these appliances properly.
- Determining if surgery is the best option for your loved one.
- Caring for your loved one post surgery.
- Answering your loved one’s questions about their sleep apnea.
- Monitoring this condition to ensure that it does not get worse.
Asthma is similar to sleep apnea in that it involves an obstruction to proper breathing; however, it differs in that it can be have multiple triggers, such as genetics, certain activities, or the environment. Like sleep apnea, asthma is a common condition that affects people of all gender, race, and age. But, asthma can become more severe for the elderly than for young people.
Asthma is caused by airway inflammation that causes a person’s lungs to narrow, spasm, or become blocked. This makes it difficult to breath and can cause tightness of chest, wheezing, coughing, and in severe cases, death.
Most people with asthma can treat it with the use of an inhaler. This inhaler can be used to get more air into the lungs during an asthma attack. For those with exercise induced asthma, an inhaler can be used 10 minutes before exercise to reduce the risk of having an asthma attack. Nursing home staff members should monitor your loved one’s asthma, make sure that they have access to an inhaler, and make sure that the condition does not worsen.
These common examples of breathing conditions can develop or worsen as your loved one gets older. To ensure their safety, you need to make sure that nursing home staff members are providing the proper treatment.