For us, allergies are an annoying disease that brings with it some not insurmountable problems for us. For our elderly parents, however, allergies can have more serious consequences.
Here are five steps you can take to reduce the impact of allergies in seniors.
1. Be aware that allergies are a particular concern for older adults
Older people are not immune to allergy symptoms like watery eyes and runny nose. However, unlike younger people, older people can have complex factors that make managing their allergies difficult. Multiple comorbidities and polypharmacy distinguish older patients from younger patients. Allergies pose a serious health risk to someone suffering from a serious illness such as lung cancer.
2. Be aware of what allergy symptoms may be hiding
In older adults, it is always necessary to clarify whether it is an allergy or something else. While a person may have nasal symptoms, they may also have non-allergic rhinitis or hypothyroidism, for example. In the case of an elderly person, you need to check whether the allergy may have other causes.
A misdiagnosis for your elderly parents could result in a host of dire health consequences for them. Therefore, it is wisest for an elderly person to have the appropriate tests carried out by an allergist. In this way he quickly finds out what he is allergic to. Another option is a blood test.
This is necessary because another phenomenon has also been observed: older people are diagnosed with a different disease because the doctor thinks of more serious diseases, such as diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, and not allergies. For example, a recent study showed that asthma is underdiagnosed in women over 80 because of other diseases.
3. Think twice before resorting to conventional antihistamines
Can Older Parents Take Antihistamines Regularly? Yes, but antihistamines affect the entire body, and this is what is most dangerous for the elderly. Possible side effects include drowsiness, urinary retention, dry mouth, itchy eyes, confusion and dizziness.
There are always concerns about mixing other drugs with alcohol, which, when combined with traditional antihistamines, can lead to problems such as hypotension or trouble sleeping, which is especially dangerous for the elderly.
4. Focus on specific symptoms
Instead of trying to treat your elderly parent’s allergy with generic antihistamines, the key is to target the symptoms. Many seniors with allergies are unaware that they can treat them very effectively without generic antihistamines. For example, people with allergic rhinitis definitely need to take nasal steroids, which are much more effective for nasal congestion. It is safe and effective, especially for the elderly. It is best to use nasal sprays for the nasal passages, eye drops, inhalers for asthma and skin creams for eczema. Of course, you should talk to your loved one’s doctor before you start using any new products or medications.
5. Avoid allergens in the first place
To minimize exposure to allergens, keep the windows closed and use the air conditioning. Have the senior shower and wash their clothes after the senior has been outside.
Other clever ideas for protecting your elderly parents from allergens include:
• Keep them away from grassy areas with lots of trees and plants
• Install a dehumidifier to keep the air clean, cool, and dry
• Close car windows when traveling with them