Identifying and Preventing Pneumonia in Older Adults

Pneumonia in older adults

A common issue with elderly care is pneumonia, which frequently results from previous illnesses or surgical procedures. A study found that pneumonia causes roughly 1 million hospital admissions each year for those 65 years or older. An average of 1.5 million people visit emergency rooms each year because of pneumonia.

Lung infection can occur due to aspirated material or inhaling non-infectious items, which can result in fluid build-up and cause pneumonia. One or both lungs may be affected by pneumonia, which causes the air sacs to become contaminated or fluid-filled. It can range from minor to severe. Pneumonia in older people can have severe and long-lasting consequences if it is not treated.

What Are the Main Causes of Pneumonia in Seniors?

Older people are more likely to contract pneumonia for many reasons. Here are several of the contributing factors listed below.

Recently being hospitalized – Seniors may be more vulnerable to pneumonia while they recover from any surgery or operation. Spending time on a ventilator or being exposed to other sick people can be the main factors which cause pneumonia.

Low immunity – Many elderly people have weak immune systems. It is probably due to ageing, and maybe drugs used to address long-term diseases. Many care homes now have digital medication tools or features like EMAR that can help to maintain seniors’ health.

Physical difficulties – Many elderly people have trouble swallowing, which could be brought on by neurological diseases, like dementia or stroke. Aspiration of food, vomit, or saliva into the lungs might result in an infection.

Chronic disease – Seniors are more prone to suffer from conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which can weaken the lungs. Risk factors can include other chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

What Are the Risk Factors of Pneumonia in Older Age?

The risk of developing severe pneumonia is significantly increased in the elderly. The following are a few of the most major risks to be aware of:

Bacteria in the blood – Pneumonia is a dangerous, potentially fatal illness that involves a bloodinfection. When bacterial pneumonia spreads to infect other organs, it is knownas bacteremia, and it can lead to organ failure.  

Persistent breathing problems – Pneumonia can significantly damage your breathing if it issevere and you already have ongoing lung problems. While you recover, you mighteven need to use a breathing machine.

Fluid accumulation – Fluid can accumulate in the chest cavity as a result of pneumonia. The fluidcould contract an infection. If this occurs, the fluid will need to besurgically removed or drained.

Lungs infection -When mucus develops inside the lung cavity, an abscess develops. Antibioticsare typically used to treat this. It might need to be removed surgically, or itmight just need to be drained.

Some proactive measures you can take if you’re older to reduce the likelihood that your pneumonia will worsen include:

  • eating nutritious food
  • consuming a lot of liquids
  • reducing your alcohol consumption
  • avoiding cigarette use
  • getting enough sleep
  • performing regular exercise

What Are the Significant Symptoms of Pneumonia in Seniors?

The signs of pneumonia may resemble those of the common cold. The symptoms may include:

Cough – A persistent cough may indicate pneumonia. Both mucus and a dry cough are possible. Greenish, yellow, or even crimson mucus can be formed when there is an accumulation in the lungs.

Fever – While a fever is often related to pneumonia, older adults with low immune systems frequently experience a cooler body temperature.

Breath shortness – When the lungs are filling up, it might be challenging to breathe. Breathing problems may result from rushing through a room or ascending stairs.

Chest pain – Lung infections might hurt when you cough or even take a deep breath. However, some people might experience a sharp, stabbing ache in the chest.

How Can Elderly People and Their Carers Prevent Pneumonia?

If you can’t manage your daily living independently, then you may need to stay in a care home. Care homes provide you with carers and nurses for your health and well-being. However, about 29% percent of care homes have deployed electronic care tools, just like Care Vision. This software can help care staff to manage their residents with full attention and care. Because it can help you to look after your residents instead of doing manual documentation of each resident which is time consuming.

We may suggest you some tips to prevent and treat pneumonia in older individuals:


Vaccinate yourself – In addition to the flu vaccine, there are vaccines available to protect your lungs from pneumonia. Seniors and carers should both be completely vaccinated and immunised.

Keep sanitising your hands – Pneumonia can be contracted from respiratory infections. So, washing your hands and using a hand sanitiser might be a preventative measure.

Quit smoking – Your lungs’ natural defences against respiratory illnesses are harmed by tobacco smoke. So, it would be better to quit smoking or ask those around you to do the same.

Boost your immunity – Limit your alcohol consumption and make sure you get enough sleep. Also, exercise frequently, eat a nutritious diet, and drink lots of water.


It is advisable to start treating your pneumonia as soon as possible if you are older. Depending on how sick you are, your doctor may probably advise you to take antibiotics, over-the-counter medications, or maybe even go to the hospital. The following effective treatments could be given to you if your pneumonia is severe enough to require hospitalisation:

  • Antibiotics
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Oxygen treatment
  • Ventilator

However, in extreme situations, you might need to undergo surgery or another operation to have severely damaged lung tissue removed.


Your immune system may worsen the problem on its own. This simply means that, if you are an older person, you must manage your pneumonia with particular caution. Because as you age, your chances of contracting severe pneumonia increase with time. That’s why, if you have trouble breathing, a persistent fever, or a cough and you are older than 65, you should visit a doctor, especially if you suffer from heart diseases, persistent lung troubles, or other serious underlying disorders.

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