Influenza or the flu is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system. Your respiratory system is made up of your nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms include things like high fevers, aches and pains, sore throat, chills and sweats, dry coughs, and nasal congestion. The flu will usually resolve itself over time. Symptoms can be helped with over-the-counter medications. Seniors often face a greater challenge.
In seniors, especially those with a compromised immune system, the flu often gets worse. It becomes pneumonia.
Your lungs are a pair spongy air filled organs located on both sides of the chest, on either side of the thorax. You take in air via your windpipe (trachea) and its tubular branches, known as bronchi. These bronchi break into smaller branches called bronchioles that actually get very small, microscopic in fact, and end in sacs called alveoli. Surrounding these spongy filled organs are a thin lubricating tissue called pleura. The pleura allows the lungs to expand and contract smoothly with each breath.
Pneumonia is an umbrella term essentially describing a build-up of fluids in the lungs caused by an infection. The infection inflames the air sacs and causes one or both lungs to become inflamed. The inflammation is often accompanied by the air sacs filling up with fluid or pus. This in turn causes cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. The pneumonia or inflammation can be caused by bacteria, viruses, even fungi.
Pneumonia is a very serious disease for seniors. It’s the second leading cause of hospitalization. About twenty percent of seniors that get serious pneumonia will die.
CarePlanIt’s Approach To Pnemonia
CarePlanIt classifies every issue into one of five key areas: health, housing, finances, end-of-life chores & family communication. Once done, the CarePlanIt framework allows you to create an optimized process of addressing the challenge. You minimize your family’s time and costs while maximizing your chance at reaching an ideal solution. Although all five categories work together, it’s important to make an initial categorization.
The flu and pneumonia are “Health” issues with “Family Communication” components. For many seniors, it can become a progressive disease where a flu turns to pneumonia. Carmen and I lost a father who got a flu virus that turned into pneumonia, which compromised our father’s immune system to the point where he never recovered. Staying on top of your condition, or your parents, is often critical in preventing the flu from becoming pneumonia. And if you or your parent has pneumonia, getting to the hospital fast may be the difference between life and death.
Preventing Pneumonia, Influenza, Flu
Family Commitment & Involvement
See CarePlanIt’s best practice section here.
We can help you navigate issues relating to these issues. That’s why you learn the CarePlanIt framework.
Great References for Pneumonia
Center for Disease Control – click here
Mayo Clinic – click here
Cleveland Clinic – click here