As summer temperatures mellow into a more pleasant autumn, many of us are taking the opportunity to step outside and breathe some fresh air. But how many are thinking about what’s going on within their lungs? Breathing is normally an unconscious process. You likely take 25,000 breaths a day, and yet you probably weren’t conscious of them until reading this article brought them to mind.
October is Healthy Lung Month and the perfect time to prepare before colder temperatures set in. Seniors especially should look out for their lung health, as lung capacity decreases with age and makes us more susceptible to respiratory infection. With COVID-19 still a serious concern, it’s more important than ever for seniors to make sure they’re looking out for every breath. From avoiding unhealthy habits to practicing positive ones, there are many ways that seniors can maximize their lung health, either on their own or with the assistance of a caregiver, and breathe a little easier.
Healthy Lungs, Healthy Life
The effects of poor lung health are wide-reaching. Over time, unhealthy lungs contribute to many major health conditions and can ultimately increase a person’s chance of mortality. With decreased lung function comes a reduction in oxygen intake, making exercise uncomfortable. This, in turn, can lead to other health concerns from not getting enough physical activity. Studies have shown that the wide-reaching effects of poor lung health results in an overall decreased quality of life.
The effects of COVID-19 are especially hard on the lungs. Having poor lung health to begin with, can put you in a higher risk category if you contract the disease. People who recover from COVID-19 have experienced up to a 20 to 30 percent reduction in lung capacity afterward. In terms of protecting yourself from illness and improving quality of life, looking out for your lung health early is a good place to start.
Many Factors Impact Lung Health
Lungs are complicated organs, and many factors can impact their health. Though some lung irritants crop up over a lifetime of exposure, others do a lot of damage even in small doses.
As obvious as it may be, inhaling the smoke and chemicals contained in cigarettes is not good for your lungs. Other than increasing the risk of lung cancer, smoking reduces lung capacity and results in more phlegm production, which makes it harder to breathe. However, smoking isn’t the only potentially dangerous hobby to kick. Some research suggests that vaping can also lead to lung disease. The safest bet is to avoid both.
Indoor and outdoor pollutants can also harm your lungs. If you live in an urban area or a place with poor air quality, you may want to pay attention to the local air quality index before deciding to exercise. Limiting outdoor activity during days with poor air quality can help protect your lungs. Inside the home, investing in an air filter and humidifier helps you breathe happy night and day.
Frequent minor respiratory infections can ultimately impact your lung health. Even a minor cold can turn into something more serious under the wrong circumstances. Protecting yourself from illness in the first place keeps your lungs in better shape. Wash your hands often, get your flu shot, and avoid being around anyone you know is sick.
Natural changes in the body as we get older can reduce lung function over time. As the body’s muscle declines, the diaphragm can lose some of its oomph. Decreasing tissue elasticity also reduces lung capacity. Though these effects are normal, there are many things seniors can do to make sure they’re still breathing well.
How Seniors Can Keep Lungs Healthy
Seniors looking after their lung health should start by looking at their habits. Quitting smoking and vaping is an important first step to any healthy lung regimen. Diet is another key place for improvement. Eating more antioxidant-rich fruits can slow down the decline in lung function, especially among ex-smokers.
Though aerobic exercise can’t improve lung function, it can increase lung capacity. Increasing workout intensity will ultimately train your lungs to breathe deeper. And of course, getting vaccinated against common respiratory illnesses is a great way to avoid coughing up a lung, so to speak.
Between diet, exercise, and other lifestyle choices, keeping your lungs healthy is a worthy challenge. There are many ways a home caregiver can guide you on the journey to healthier lungs. Whether it’s going to the store during flu season so you can avoid catching a nasty cough or picking out and preparing the healthiest groceries on your behalf, a caregiver offers a variety of services to assist seniors in and out of the home. If you’re trying to get your breathing up to peak efficiency, a home caregiver could be right for you.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.