Many common ailments afflict adults into their senior years, making them miserable and leaving their family caregivers at a loss to help. Assistance from medical professionals and support from non-medical caregiving professionals can provide a boost to family caregivers and relief to seniors.
Q. My 79-year-old father has been suffering with allergies for years. Do you know how I can help him?
Allergies are a common problem for North Americans of all ages, and spring and summer are certainly the seasons for them. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, about 20 percent of the population is affected. Airborne allergens often cause watery eyes, sneezing and runny noses.
Allergies also can complicate other medical conditions in seniors such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which are more common in adults over the age of 65, the Academy reports. A long-term history of smoking is very common in patients with COPD. Asthma and COPD can both cause chest symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.
The best thing to do for your dad is encourage him to see a qualified medical professional, who may refer him to other specialists for appropriate diagnostic tests and a plan suited to his conditions. When you’re at the doctor’s office, take with you the following check list from the Academy to help get the answers that you need:
- Ask how to avoid allergy triggers.
- Request an allergy/asthma medication care plan.
- Ask for a demonstration on how to use a metered dose inhaler, spacer-holding chamber, or any other devices that are given to treat the symptoms.
- Find out what to do if the symptoms worsen.
- Bring all medications to each visit.
- Re-evaluate the physical exam to rule out other problems such as heart disease.
Your dad also should have someone accompany him to his appointments. If you are unable to do so, ask him who he would want to go with him. If no one is available, consider hiring a professional caregiver. Home Instead CAREGiversSM, for instance, often take older adults to their appointments, as well as help them pick up any medications they need and provide medication reminders to them.
Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, bonded and insured, and trained to look out for the best interests of seniors.