Important Things to Know About Pneumonia in Seniors

pneumonia in senior citizensImportant Things to Know About Pneumonia in Seniors


Studies show that almost one million adults over 65 years in the USA are hospitalized with pneumonia each year. It is a health condition caused when the air sacs in your lungs, called alveoli, become inflamed. It often leads to shortness of breath and severe cough and may become fatal if you don’t address it promptly.

The experts in our assisted living facility have put together a guide to help you learn more about pneumonia, its symptoms, its impact on seniors, and effective treatment options.

5 Reasons Why Pneumonia Can Be More Serious for Seniors

  • Overall Health: If you experience multiple medical conditions in the later years of life, your immune system can be weak. This is why your body may face difficulties in fighting off infections.
  • Weaker Lungs: Coughing is a natural way of expelling pathogens from the lungs. Without this ability, you are more likely to contract infections in your senior years. Moreover, fluid buildup in the lungs causes pneumonia, making it difficult to breathe normally and leading to painful coughing fits.
  • Comorbid Diseases: Specific conditions, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, and those that affect your lungs and heart, are common in people over 60 years old. This increases the chance of contracting pneumonia as you age.
  • Chemotherapy: Cancer treatments such as radiation therapy in seniors may lead to inflammation of the lungs, increasing the risk of pneumonia.
  • Contagious Environment: The chances of exposure to pneumonia are higher in hospitals because of the presence of many people.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

The indicators of this condition in seniors often differ from people in other age groups. You can look for the following signs so that you know when to take the right action:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Harsh coughing fits with phlegm
  • Weakness, fatigue, or unsteadiness
  • Chest pain
  • High fever, sweating, chills and shaking
  • Clammy skin

If you have pneumonia, you may have the following difficulties:

  • Confusion
  • Changes in the ability to perform routine activities
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Lack of an appetite
  • Worsening of existing medical conditions

As medical experts in an assisted living facility, we understand that symptoms in seniors are usually more subtle and may differ from the general indications of pneumonia, making it difficult to recognize. It is crucial to monitor yourself and look for the signs of breathing problems so that you can get help at the right time.

Is Pneumonia Curable?

The treatment for this health condition depends on its type. Mostly, it can be cured with timely diagnosis and proper treatment. Generally, a doctor will prescribe antivirals, antibiotics, or other similar medications. However, if you have severe symptoms, they may admit you to the hospital. Emergency treatment, in this case, may include a respirator, fluids, bronchodilators, and round-the-clock observation from specialists.

When Should You Consult a Doctor?

It helps to know that pneumonia can become serious quickly, especially in seniors. Thus, early detection is crucial when it comes to the treatment of the disease. Here are some signs that require a trip to the doctor:

  • Continuous breathing troubles
  • Bluish colored nails, lips, or face
  • Acute chest pain
  • High fever and abnormal body temperature
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Unexplained changes in your functional status


No specific prevention method is 100% successful because pneumonia has many strains or types and can be caused by infections. However, you may follow these steps to reduce the possibility of catching the disease:

  • Vaccination It is best to get the flu or influenza shot every year and a one-time shot of pneumococcal vaccines. It helps to protect you from many strains of pneumonia bacteria. They are 60% to 80% effective in preventing pneumonia if you have a healthy immune system. However, consult a doctor before getting any shots to avoid side effects and allergic reactions.
  • Hygiene It is essential to ensure your environment is clean and well-maintained. In addition to this, be sure to wash your hands properly and maintain your distance from an ill person to prevent the transmission of contagious diseases. Disinfecting the surfaces in your home can help as well.
  • Healthy Immune System As you age, it is vital to ensure your body has good immunity to ward off health issues. Eating a nutritious and balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising can help prevent illnesses such as pneumonia in your senior years. Also, consult your doctor to see if supplements are right for you.

Get the Best Health Care in Our Assisted Living Facility

The Holiday Retirement offers the best assisted living facilities for seniors having trouble with everyday chores. We provide comfortable housing and loving care to ensure you have peace of mind.

Our wide range of amenities includes:

  • A thoughtfully planned building
  • Well-equipped, senior-friendly assisted living retirement homes
  • Excellent health care services
  • Qualified staff and specialists
  • The convenience of aging in place
  • Peaceful, home-like atmosphere
  • Immediate assistance with an emergency call button
  • Activities to stimulate physical and mental wellness

Our staff organizes entertaining activities such as movie time, games, ice cream socials, exercise routines, birthday parties, and more to keep our residents active and engaged. We promise safety, comfort, and care to our residents and strive to ensure they enjoy a healthy and happy life.

If you are want to move to an assisted living in Rhode Island, be sure to call us at 1-401-762-4226. We will be more than happy to answer your questions and help you find a suitable living arrangement that meets your specifications. You could also fill out our online contact form to schedule a tour of our facility to understand what we offer and how we can help you.

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