2AdobeStock 202728044 ConvMany of us take it for granted until it becomes an issue.

Being able to breathe properly is obviously a critical part of life. Maintaining a healthy respiratory system is of the utmost importance to senior citizens, who may face a number of challenges to their breathing ability as they age.

Embassy Healthcare’s Grande Oaks and Parkside skilled nursing communities feature a Ventilator Care Unit to provide specialized care for individuals with respiratory issues. The communities are among the few centers in Ohio with units focusing on the ventilator population, including respiratory therapists on staff on a 24-7 basis.

Embassy Healthcare offers the following information about some of the most common respiratory health concerns facing the aging population:

Asthma

This common condition – experienced by about two million seniors – poses serious problems for older people, worsened due to the effects of aging. Symptoms include coughing and difficulty catching their breath. These symptoms often look similar to those of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis

These respiratory illnesses both fall under the COPD category. Many people who have one tend to have the other and the causes are the same: smoking and exposure to pollutants, dust and fumes.

Emphysema occurs as the lungs’ air sacs weaken and rupture, causing old air to remain in the lungs upon exhaling. There isn’t room for fresh air, causing less oxygen to enter the bloodstream. Shortness of breath is the most common symptom. Emphysema can cause holes to form in the lungs, as well as heart problems.

Chronic bronchitis is when the bronchial tubes, airways carrying oxygen to the lungs, get inflamed. These damaged tubes create excessive mucus, which can cause breathing difficulty, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)

This condition usually develops when a senior is ill or experiences a trauma of sorts. ARDS occurs when fluid builds up in the lungs’ air sacs after small blood vessels are damaged. The damage may stem from an infection of the blood or lungs, head or chest injury or a toxic substance. ARDS, which has a mortality rate of up to 80% in seniors, must be treated immediately.

Aging Lungs

All seniors experience diminished capacity in their lungs as they age, making it harder to get as much air in their lungs during the breathing process. Healthy seniors should not experience significant problems from aging lungs, however.

If you or a loved one has respiratory problems and want to learn more about ventilator care units at Grande Oaks or Parkside, call us at 888-975-1379 or schedule a tour.