Helping Seniors Manage Seasonal Allergies
Think that seniors are immune to seasonal allergies? Think again! People can develop allergies at any age, and the number of adult-onset allergies is actually increasing. So even if your loved one has never had allergies in the past, their golden years may suddenly turn into the sniffling and sneezing years.
As a caregiver, make it a point to watch for the signs of seasonal allergies: sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and itchy or watery eyes. If you think your loved one might be experiencing allergies, it’s important to talk to their doctor. Allergies can have a more significant impact on seniors than on younger folks, due to age-related declines in their immune systems.
More than just a nuisance
Unfortunately, doctors may overlook seasonal allergies in the elderly because they usually focus on the more common issues of aging such as pain, changes in memory, or chronic illnesses. (And seniors suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may not even mention their allergy symptoms.)
As an inflammatory condition, seasonal allergies can lead to more serious illnesses such as sinus infection, ear infections, and upper respiratory infections — additionally, allergies can be dangerous to seniors with chronic diseases, lung disease or cardiovascular issues.
The danger of antihistamines
While over-the-counter antihistamines are commonly used to treat allergies, they can actually be hazardous for seniors. Harmful side effects can include extreme drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, urine retention, and dry mouth or eyes.
Allergy medications can also interact with other medications that are frequently prescribed for seniors, leading to mood swings, changes in behavior and insomnia. Ultimately, these side effects can contribute to falls or urinary tract infections.
Before you give your loved one an over-the-counter antihistamine, talk to their doctor about the safest allergy treatment. And in the meantime, follow the tips
Practical allergy prevention tips
The good news is that there are drug-free ways you can help your loved one get through Oregon’s allergy season:
- Keep windows and doors closed when pollen is at its peak. Use the air conditioner instead.
- Dry laundry in the dryer (not outdoors on a clothesline) to keep pollen off clothes and bedding.
- Monitor pollen levels and plan outings for the days when pollen counts are expected to be the lowest.
- Wear sunglasses and a hat outside to prevent pollen and other irritants from getting into the eyes and hair.
- Wash hands after being outdoors, and shower after spending significant time outside to help keep pollen from being spread inside the house.
By following these tips, you can reduce much of the stress and discomfort that come with allergy season.
Enjoy indoor activities at Hearthstone
When seasonal allergies peak, you’ll want to find new ways to keep your loved one active and entertained indoors. Here at Hearthstone senior living communities, our residents enjoy a full calendar of indoor activities every month including: book clubs, card games, live music, movie screenings, and other fun in-house social gatherings.
In addition, our unique large-screen entertainment system offers a huge variety of programs from sing-alongs to daily workouts, interactive games to educational videos, brain exercises to creative projects — all updated on a regular basis to keep things new and interesting.
To learn more about the senior living options at Hearthstone, we invite you to contact us to set up a personal tour today.