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Though living with an elderly relative with Asthma is not much different to living with any other age group with asthma, you naturally have to take a little bit more special care. They are one of the at risk groups, and they don’t always associate the symptoms of asthma as an attack but prefer to simply put it down to old age.
Age does not mean that they require any less of the lifestyle that we would expect for ourselves or our children, in fact they need it to be controlled so that their life is improved slightly more as with age we all get slower to fight of infection.
Also asthma in the elderly can have other associated problems like depression, restricted movement because of lack of breath and sleepiness during the day. Smoke and smoking can bring on an asthma attack and even the elderly can still benefit from giving up smoking. Relatives should try not to smoke any where near an elderly relative.
Many elderly do not like to bother their G.P with what they think is minor problems, telling themselves it’s just a cold or touch of flu etc, They do not tell them that their asthma is getting worse or that the wheezing will not stop. Because of this they suffer severe attacks purely because they did not get the medical help that they did not think they needed.
Medication and preventive medicine like the flu jab can help the elderly live a relatively normal life. And may even help them to stay attack free.
Remove as many contributing factors as possible, such as dust and dust mites, smoke, and pet hair. This will all help the asthma sufferer breath more easily and give them good quality air therefore preventing frequent attacks and trips to either the doctors or hospital. Although treatment for the elderly is the same for everyone it may well need to be increased because of the fact that the elderly are more susceptive to colds and flu.
In the years 1972-1986 Sweden did a poll to see what the trends were with asthma and the elderly and they found that 710,187 hospitalisation days and 62,342 periods of hospital treatment were mainly due to the elderly and asthma.
Typical symptoms of asthma may mimic Chronic Bronchitis, and Emphysema, colds and allergy. So if you were in any doubt that your elderly relative has had a cold for too long, or they appear extra breathless or wheezy then it would probably be best to get them checked out by their G.P even though they may tell you they are fine.
Taking care of the young with asthma will eventually change the trends of the elderly with asthma. Also if you elderly relative has a pet or pets remember that fur loss can bring on a severe attack of asthma so to help if the pets hair is long always give them a good brush to try to alleviate to much hair loss in the home