Springtime is here, and with it comes pesky seasonal allergies. But did you know that elderly people are more likely to develop allergies? According to the CDC, 60 million Americans experience seasonal allergies each year. Seniors are a big chunk of this number, making springtime very unpleasant for them.
This is because their immune systems change and weaken as they age. If you are a caregiver for a senior relative, it is important to know that allergies pose unique problems for elderly people. Even if your elderly loved one has never experienced allergy symptoms before, you cannot assume they are immune to it.
Signs Your Elderly Loved One May Have Allergies
- Runny or stuffy nose. This is one of the most common signs of allergies in both adults and children. Staying hydrated will help reduce runny or stuffy nose and nasal congestion.
- Itchy and watery eyes. Most allergens are airborne, and if they come into contact with the face, they can cause the eyes to be itchy and watery. You can soothe this by washing the face and placing a cool washcloth over the eyes.
- Sneezing. This is a very common allergy symptom that occurs when the nasal passage becomes ticklish, which causes people to sneeze.
- Itchy nose or throat. If a senior's nose and throat become sensitive to allergens, they may become irritated and feel itchy.
- Post-nasal drip. Allergies and post-nasal drip often go hand in hand. As the excess mucus clogs the sinuses and throat, your senior loved one might feel like they have to cough or clear their throat.
- Sore throat. With increased histamine levels in the body system, a senior's throat can become very sensitive and irritated. If they have trouble swallowing, try a soothing lozenge to help reduce the pain.
- Cough. A persistent dry allergy cough can aggravate other breathing issues such as asthma.
8 Ways to Manage Seasonal Allergies in the Elderly
- Watch out for symptoms. Since allergies can be a threat to seniors, it is important to be aware of allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and watery or itchy eyes.
- Minimize exposure. Monitoring the local allergen forecasts through sites such as pollen.com will help you know when pollen levels are especially high. Try to avoid going outside on those specific days or prepare your senior loved one to take extra care when doing so, including washing their hands, taking a shower, or changing their clothes after being outside to help to rid pollen that can cause allergies or reactions.
- Clean the home. It is important to dust and vacuum your senior family member's home as often as possible, especially during the spring, to keep it as pollen-free as possible. If your senior loved one is extra sensitive, make sure to wear a mask.
- Remove clutter. Removing items around the house that collects dust will help rid the home of buildup and prevent allergies.
- Air conditioning. Do not open the windows during the allergy season. Use air conditioning instead to keep their home cool and allergen-free.
- A healthy diet. Eating immunity-boosting foods such as apples, strawberries, ginger, leafy vegetables, walnuts, and fatty fish can help to fight inflammation and manage seasonal allergy symptoms.
- Avoid first-generation antihistamines. Certain antihistamines may cause adverse side effects in elderly people, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and dry mouth, so it is vital to consult their doctor before administering any medication.
- Use a dehumidifier. Since mold is a common cause of seasonal allergies, using a dehumidifier will help keep their home’s humidity under fifty percent and prevent allergies.
Spring, and its beautiful growing greenery and flowers, is like a breath of fresh air after a long winter. However, new growth means that the air is also full of pollen, setting off allergies in people, both young and old. Knowing what triggers allergies in your senior loved one can help to prevent bothersome allergic reactions.
Managing allergies in seniors is essential to help ensure a healthy life for them. This is possible by making a few lifestyle changes and controlling exposure to allergens. Staying updated on allergy forecasts can also help to avoid seasonal allergy discomfort.
Read also: Keeping Your Elderly Loved One Active This Spring
Home Instead caters to the needs of elderly seniors in Lafayette and the surrounding areas. Our dedicated senior helpers in Lafayette, LA, are trained to provide exceptional home care in various ways, such as personal care, light housekeeping, transportation, and more. Our CAREGivers are committed to making allergy season more bearable for your elderly loved one. Contact us to speak to our Care Manager!