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Allergies and Senior Care

With spring arriving in Wisconsin, our thoughts turn to allergy season.  Some seniors, however, also have existing allergies, some of which are dangerous, which can make care difficult.  Seasonal allergies affect 50 million people in the U.S.  Seniors can be affected by allergens such as foods, pets, dust, molds, pollen, spores and more.  It is always important to ensure that seniors have help with allergy management.  (Hopkins Medicine)

Common Allergies:

Most allergies will develop at some point in childhood.  However, people over the age of 50 can sometimes suddenly develop allergies for unknown reasons.  Seniors who develop symptoms after being exposed to an allergen should be seen by a doctor.  Common types of allergens can include:

  1. Seasonal – pollen, weeds, certain plants
  2. Environmental – Mold, dust, certain animals
  3. Food – Peanuts, shellfish, ingredients within medications and immunizations. (WebMD)

Allergy symptoms can include the following:

  • Itchy/runny nose
  • Congestion or wheezing
  • Dry or inflamed skin
  • Rashes
  • Watery eyes
  • Headache
  • Mucus nasal discharge
  • Persistent cough
  • Swelling (SeniorCaring)

Managing Allergies

Management of allergies is important both for safety and high quality of life.  Aspects of aging like memory loss and medications can affect a person’s ability to manage their allergies well.  The immune system, organs, and other parts of the body degenerate with age which can change how seniors react to allergens.  Medications can exacerbate symptoms.  (Life Care Services)  Reduced mobility that limits a senior’s ability to keep their home clean can make managing environmental allergies such as dust, mold, and pets difficult.  Some ways to help seniors manage allergies are listed below.

  • Keep a list of allergies available in the home, on medical alert tags, and on emergency medical paperwork
  • Work to keep allergens out of the home, especially food allergies
  • For seasonal allergies, look for indoor activities that will be fun for your senior to do
  • Ask the doctor and/or pharmacist about allergies and medication interactions/ contributions
  • Find and keep a file of allergen-free recipes
  • Maintain a clean home
  • Be familiar with what to do if a serious allergic reaction occurs (Asthma and Allergies) & (Asthma and Allergies)

For more information on allergies and treatment it is always best to consult a medical professional.

(ClearCare Monthly)

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