Quick! Which two bodily organs do you use the most? Chances are you said the eyes and the heart. It’s true; our hearts keep us alive and the eyes are constantly in use. But, what about the lungs? We use our lungs 24 hours a day, even while we are sleeping. We can get by without sight, but not without breathing. Though always being utilized, we don’t think about our lungs or their health nearly enough. We need to break that habit; especially when it comes to lung care in the elderly.
As we get older, the physical changes in our body can make breathing more difficult. Some of these changes are not brought upon by external elements and are just a result of getting older. They can include:
- Changes to your bone structure that can reduce the amount of space in which your lungs can expand
- Weakening of the muscles which help regulate your breathing including the diaphragm and those that regulate your airways
- Changes to the nervous system that controls your breathing
- A weakened immune system that may make seniors more susceptible to lung problems 
Don’t forget; after years of living, these lung issues may be exacerbated by years of exposure to cigarette smoke, air pollution (indoor/outdoor), and other irritants. Lung diseases faced by seniors often include bronchial asthma, COPD, pneumonia, and lung cancer. 
Even if the years of living have damaged the lungs, there are steps that can be taken to stop the degradation and improve lung health. Here are a few things that your loved one can do to help take care of their lungs:
Cut Out Cigarette Smoke
This is an easy one. Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer in adults. Cancer is only the worst case scenario. It can also lead to bronchitis and emphysema. Second-hand smoke is also bad for the lungs. Eliminate all cigarette smoke around elderly patients.
Avoid Air Pollution
Many agencies (including the Weather Network) now offer warnings on air quality and pollutions. These reports are good indicator on whether it is safe for those with lung problems to go outside. Don’t forget indoor air pollution, which can come in the form of mould, pollen, pet dander, household products, and carbon dioxide. Make sure the living space is well ventilated with a good air flow. Other ways to improve indoor air pollution are with plants and indoor air purifiers, both of which can help to cleanse the air in indoor spaces.
Being physically active every day helps to strengthen the muscles that help with breathing as well as the longs. It doesn’t have to be intense; even brisk walking or swimming for 30 minutes a day will help. Try breathing deeply more often as well. It works on the diaphragm muscle.
While food does not directly touch our lungs, it can make a difference in lung health. Some foods contain nutrients that are especially helpful for breathing. They include: apples, onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, red bell peppers, beans, seeds, and nuts.
These are only a few things that you can do to improve the lung health of elderly patients. The lungs will need more maintenance and care over the years. Consistent and regular care will be important. This is where elder home health care plays a crucial role. iCare Home Health Services provides premier home health care for seniors in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, and the entire Greater Toronto Area. A free at-home assessment could help uncover issues and make recommendations for healthier lifestyles. We will bring caring, qualified, and passionate health care workers into your loved one’s home to care for all of their needs. For more information, please contact us today!