For aging-in-place seniors who live in cold-weather states, spring’s arrival is a welcomed breath of fresh air. But when seasonal allergies are a problem, nature’s colorful blooming flowers and budding trees can also be a source of frustration and discomfort. In fact, some elderly people with chronic health conditions like cardiovascular disease or asthma are placed at serious risk when exposed to airborne allergens- especially during the spring and fall. If you’re an informal caregiver, here are several reliable ways to help seniors navigate through allergy season.
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Seasonal allergies are also called “hay fever” or allergic rhinitis by clinicians. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe, and life-threatening reactions are even possible. The Mayo Clinic online lists these possible allergic rhinitis symptoms:
- Runny, stuffy nose
- Watery, swollen or red eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Itching of the eyes, nose or roof of the mouth
Depending upon the irritating particle (allergen), seasonal allergy symptoms can affect the nasal passages, sinuses, airways, skin and even digestive system. Not only will seasonal allergies reduce a senior’s quality of life, many then turn to over-the-counter antihistamines that can cause dangerous side effects.
Allergy Management Tips
Even if your senior has allergies, getting them outdoors to exercise and soak up the sun’s rays benefits their health and wellbeing. However, keeping them safe and comfortable in the process means developing a good allergy management strategy. Here are some tips:
Watch for the Signs
Just because someone hasn’t had seasonal allergies before doesn’t mean they can’t develop them at any age. Always keep an eye on your senior while they’re outdoors and look for the classic allergy signs like itchy eyes, sneezing and runny nose.
Tell Their Doctor
Someone with cardiovascular issues or lung disease can be placed at serious risk during allergy season. And, many seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s oftentimes can’t verbalize the discomfort they’re experiencing. If you suspect that your loved one has allergies it’s best to promptly consult with their physician.
Try Drug-Free Solutions
As was mentioned earlier, antihistamine use in the elderly is discouraged. In most instances, seasonal allergies are triggered by mold and pollen in the air. Here are some drug-free ways to help protect your loved one from airborne allergens:
- Encourage them to wear sunglasses outside to avoid eye exposure.
- Monitor the daily pollen counts and avoid outdoor activities on elevated-pollen days.
- If their allergies flare up, get them indoors quickly.
Inside the Home
Even when a senior is indoors, they’re not totally protected against allergens, and notably when there’s a pet or a lot of dust in the home. These are some guidelines for turning their home into a “pollen-free” zone:
- When either of you enters the home, remove your shoes, wash your hands thoroughly and then take a shower.
- Keep the home’s windows and doors closed whenever possible, and while traveling in the car together always keep the windows up.
- If the home has central air, equip the A/C unit with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter and make sure the unit is serviced annually.
- Vacuum and dust the home frequently to remove allergens but don’t use mom’s old vacuum cleaner in the closet. Instead, buy her a new one that’s designed for people with allergies.
We Help Navigate Seniors Through Allergy Season
Trying to help seniors with allergies stay safe and comfortable during allergy season can be difficult if you’re busy or live far away. When you need a hand, contact HomeChoice Home Care Solutions. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our highly trained caregiving experts can step in and provide your loved one with the allergy management assistance they need. All our in-home services are designed to help keep seniors active, comfortable and allergy-free so they can continue aging in place right where they want to be.
With an emphasis on quality of life, dignity and independence, our carefully screened aides can perform in-home services like light housework, personal hygiene, meals, medication reminders, escorted transportation and companionship. And, you can choose from our menu of home care amenities to design a personalized program that’s perfect for your budget! To learn more about HomeChoice Home Care Solutions now, or to schedule a FREE in-home assessment for your senior today, please call or visit us online.