The body’s lungs are hard-working organs that serve two critical functions: get oxygen from the air into the body and remove carbon dioxide from the body. Unfortunately, our lungs are not immune to the passage of time and, as we age, so do our lungs. Therefore, it’s helpful to know how the lungs change with time, what’s considered a natural change, and what could be a signal that you should make an appointment with your doctor.
“As you age, changes affect your lung tissue, muscles and bones, which all impact your breathing. The maximum amount of air your lungs can hold – your total lung capacity – is about six liters. That is about three large soda bottles. Your lungs mature by the time you are about 20-25 years old. After about 35, their function declines as you age and as a result, breathing can slowly become more difficult over time. In a person without lung disease, most of these changes are due to cardiovascular and muscle changes, not changes to the lungs themselves,” according to the American Lung Association.
If you’re noticing the following signs and symptoms in your senior parent, call their doctor immediately:
- Low oxygen levels
- Shortness of breath
- Lung infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis
- Abnormal breathing patterns, resulting in problems such as sleep apnea
These warning signs can be caused by multiple factors, which include changes to the bones and muscles of the chest and spine, changes to lung tissue, changes to the nervous system, and changes to the immune system. MedlinePlus reports that these changes occur because:
- ones become thinner and change shape. This can change the shape of your ribcage. As a result, your ribcage cannot expand and contract as well during breathing.
- The muscle that supports your breathing, the diaphragm, becomes weakened. This weakness may prevent you from breathing enough air in or out.
- Muscles and other tissues that are near your airways may lose their ability to keep the airways completely open. This causes the airways to close easily.
- Aging also causes the air sacs to lose their shape and become baggy.
- The part of the brain that controls breathing may lose some of its function. When this happens, your lungs are not able to get enough oxygen. Not enough carbon dioxide may leave the lungs. Breathing may get more difficult.
- Nerves in your airways that trigger coughing become less sensitive. Large amounts of particles like smoke or germs may collect in the lungs and may be hard to cough up.
- Your immune system can get weaker. This means your body is less able to fight lung infections and other diseases.
- Your lungs are also less able to recover after exposure to smoke or other harmful particles.
If your senior parent is struggling with any of the signs and symptoms above, call their doctor and call SYNERGY HomeCare of Corona, Riverside, or Anaheim Hills. SYNERGY’s in-home caregivers can help your senior parent follow their doctor’s prescribed health care plan and help them make lifestyle changes to improve their lung function. SYNERGY HomeCare of Corona, Riverside, and Anaheim Hills in-home caregivers can help your senior parent follow the American Heart Association’s health care tips:
- Avoid smoking. Smoking damages your lungs and will compound the effects of aging.
- Avoid air pollution. Indoor and outdoor air pollutants can damage your lungs. Secondhand smoke, outdoor air pollution, chemicals in the home and workplace, and radon all can cause or worsen lung disease.
- Encourage light exercise. Regular exercise can help keep chest muscles strong.
- Get up and stay active. Lying in bed too long allows mucus and fluid to settle in your lungs, which can harm lung capacity.
- Visit the doctor. Regular check-ups help prevent diseases, even when you are feeling well. This is especially true for lung disease, which sometimes goes undetected until it is serious. It’s also important to get a flu shot and ask your doctor if you should be vaccinated for pneumonia.
SYNERGY HomeCare’s compassionate, skilled, and highly-trained in-home caregivers provide your senior parent with top-notch, quality, and personalized care to meet their needs. SYNERGY’s in-home caregivers provide personal assistance, transportation services, meal preparation, housekeeping, and companionship services.
- Standby assistance with morning and evening routines
- Transfer assistance
- Bathing and showering assistance
- Personal Hygiene assistance
- Help with restroom use
- Assistance with dressing
- Personal appearance care
- Incontinence care
Errands and Transportation Services
- Incidental transportation
- Schedule planning and assistance
- Errand services
Meal Planning and Preparation
- Assistance with meal planning
- Mealtime feeding assistance
- Assist with and motivate meal preparation
- Complete meal preparation
- Assistance with light gardening
- Kitchen cleaning and organization
- Bathroom cleaning and organization
- Laundry and ironing
- Changing linens
- Friendly and supportive conversation
- Plan and encourage social activities
- Encourage light exercise
- Encourage active thinking
About SYNERGY HomeCare of Anaheim Hills
SYNERGY HomeCare of Anaheim Hills is the name you can trust in Anaheim, Anaheim Hills, Yorba Linda, Tustin, Santa Ana, Orange and Placentia for personal home care. SYNERGY HomeCare of Anaheim Hills is part of a national franchise of non-medical home care offices dedicated to providing exceptional and affordable service to anyone of any age. SYNERGY HomeCare caregivers are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, to those in need - including seniors, expectant moms, those suffering from sports injuries and debilitating illnesses, and more. SYNERGY HomeCare of Corona & Riverside can be found online at http://www.synergyhomecare.com/agencies/ca/anaheim-hills/ca25 . The location also hosts active social media pages on Facebook and Twitter. Ken and Anna can be reached at 714- 706-1613 and [email protected].