Seasonal allergies are a result of pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. Millions of Americans are affected by summertime allergies and the elderly are not exempt. In fact, allergies in the elderly are more complicated because of other health conditions, medications, and a weaker immune system. Senior care will play an important role in helping the elderly cope with summertime allergies.
What causes allergies?
When pollen attaches to the mucous membranes in our nasal or bronchial passages, the immune cells of the membranes release histamine. The body then tries to rid itself of the histamine through sneezing, coughing, sore throat, watery eyes, and a runny or stuffy nose.
Senior care services can help make allergy season bearable in the following ways:
- Know what signs to look for – Sneezing, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, etc. are the traditional signs of allergies.
- Avoid traditional antihistamines – Antihistamines are commonly prescribed to treat allergies but can be potentially harmful to seniors. Antihistamines could cause dangerous interactions with prescribed medications and have an effect on mood or behavior in the elderly. Other side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Urinary retention
- Dryness of the eyes
- Consult with the doctor – Many times doctors are so focused on larger health issues in an older person that they don’t always make an allergy diagnosis on their own. If you are noticing the signs associated with summer allergies in an elderly individual, contact the doctor and bring it to their attention.
- Take allergies seriously – Certain symptoms of allergies can be dangerous to a senior with specific pre-existing conditions. Congestion and an irritated throat can be extremely problematic for a senior with cardiovascular problems. Senior care servicesshould be aggressive about getting an elder diagnosed and treated.
- Medication management – Once the doctor has diagnosed an elder with allergies, senior care will need to remind the senior to take the prescribed medication as directed. Typically, for allergies in seniors, the doctor will prescribe a nasal steroid or form of topical medication.
- Be careful with certain activities – Many seniors like to plant flowers. Plan a garden using plants and flowers that rely on insects instead of the wind to take care of pollination. Mulch and wood chips, commonly used in gardens, are not always allergy friendly. They can trap moisture providing the perfect environment for mold. Using gravel or oyster shells are a better option.
While summer is a great time for getting out in the fresh air, some extra care may be necessary to keep allergies at bay. With careful planning and the right senior care, there is no reason why the elderly can’t enjoy the benefits of summer.
For more information about senior care in University City MO, contact Senior Services Unlimited. We are an elder care agency providing affordable and respectful home care to couples, veterans, and the disabled. call (314) 646-8131.