Asthma Challenges for Seniors During Spring and Summer Months

May 31st, 2017 No Comments


Seniors with Asthma Visiting Angels Assisted Living Burlington County, NJMay is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.

For asthmatics of all ages, the spring and summer months can be a challenging time of the year. More than two-million Americans age 65 or older have asthma, and if you’re a senior with asthma, recognizing triggers, warning signs of an asthma attack, and knowing when treatment needs to be adjusted are ways you can prepare for or prevent a full-blown asthma attack. As we age, chronic health issues can make it more difficult for us to live independently. Being able to safely manage chronic illnesses, such as asthma, is important in order to remain self-sufficient.

Asthma Challenges for Seniors

Asthma is a long-term, chronic lung disease that causes the airway to become inflamed, making it difficult to breathe. There is no cure for asthma, but the disease can be treated and managed over time. The best way to effectively manage asthma is to avoid triggers, take medications to prevent symptoms, and be prepared to treat asthmatic episodes. The changing needs of senior adults will make asthma care more difficult, often due to new sets of challenges that they will face as they grow older, including:

  • Increased risk of respiratory failure
  • Difficulty using inhalers due to arthritis
  • Confusion of medication and equipment needed for nebulizer treatments
  • Affordability of medications, inhalers or asthma supplies, which can keep them from staying on track with medications they need


As a person who struggles with asthma, avoiding triggers is key. Some common triggers that should be avoided are:

  • Allergens such as mold, animal dander, pollen and dust mites
  • Tobacco smoke, air pollution, strong odors or fumes
  • Viral and bacterial infections such as a cold, flu and sinusitis
  • Sudden exposure to cold, dry air or weather changes
  • Emotional anxiety and stress
  • Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction

Warning Signs

As spring changes to summer, the hot, humid air can trigger asthma symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath. If you or your loved one comes in contact with a trigger, it can lead to the following signs of an attack:

  • Severe wheezing when breathing
  • Inability to catch your breath with rapid breathing
  • Tightened neck and chest muscles, known as retractions
  • Difficulty talking

Keep Track of Changes

If symptoms worsen even after the use of a rescue inhaler or medication through a nebulizer, emergency medical treatment should be sought immediately. Keep track of any events that show signs that asthma treatment needs to be adjusted. Senior asthmatics’ overall health is continually changing, and asthma care may need to change as well. Treatment might need to change even if your health is stable if:

  • Are refills needed on rescue asthma medication more than twice a year?
  • Did you visit the emergency room for asthma symptoms more than twice a year?
  • Do you wake up in the middle of the night due to asthma more than two times in a month?

Besides calling your doctor when asthma symptoms are no longer being controlled by medication, regular doctor visits are also necessary. Seniors who have moderate or persistent asthma should expect to visit the doctor quarterly, and possibly once a week, if their asthma is uncontrolled.

If you, your loved one, or someone you know has asthma and needs assistance managing their daily treatment regimens, contact Visiting Angels today. Our Angels provide professional, individualized, non-medical in-home care to adults and seniors in Mercer and Burlington Counties, New Jersey.

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