It’s springtime in the South, and that means warmer temperatures, longer days, and blossoming plants. Your mother may not be having problems with frequent colds; her symptoms could be caused by allergies. Many seniors with allergies may be misdiagnosed or undertreated because caregivers and health care providers tend to focus more on other health conditions. This information can help you understand more about how allergies can affect seniors as well as some suggestions for reducing the discomfort from symptoms.
Look for Signs
Seniors with allergies can experience the same symptoms that other adult populations have. The hallmarks of seasonal allergies include:
- Stuffy nose
- Watery eyes
- Hives, rashes, or skin irritation
- Difficulty breathing
If you have allergies, you know how miserable these symptoms can make you feel. You may be able to control your allergies with antihistamines, but seniors, especially those with cardiovascular issues, may not be able to tolerate over-the-counter medications.
Start a Conversation
Seniors with allergies can struggle, especially if they have other medical conditions that affect their breathing. You or a caregiver should look for signs of allergic reactions or symptoms and keep a record of them to take to your senior’s medical provider. With your information and a thorough physical examination, a physician can determine the best course of treatment for allergies. You should be even more cautious if your loved one has any cardiac issues or takes medication for a heart condition. A primary care provider should make recommendations for appropriate treatment.
While antihistamines may not be an option because of side effects or interaction with other prescriptions, nasal steroid sprays and topical medications are effective for the elderly and can lessen symptoms. There may even be treatment available that is specifically for seniors with allergies. Seeking advice from a doctor can make all the difference for your loved one’s comfort and safety.
What You Can Do
While you can’t make allergies go away, you can adopt a few simple lifestyle changes to limit your loved one’s exposure to pollen, mold, and other allergens. Here are some easy and helpful ideas for your loved one to try:
- Use air conditioning to circulate and filter the air inside.
- Do not open windows.
- Use a clothes dryer rather than hanging clothing or linens on an outside clothesline.
- Check weather reports and pollen counts to plan outdoor time safely.
- Encourage sunglass use to protect eyes from pollen.
- Change linens frequently and clean spaces regularly to remove pollen indoors.
- Wash hands after going outside, and shower regularly to remove pollen from hair.
- Eat a healthy diet. Incorporate foods rich in vitamin C as well as anti-inflammatory foods.
Hopefully, with a multi-faceted approach to allergies, using medical treatment and lifestyle changes, you can control your mother’s symptoms and provide relief.