Why Are Elderly People More Likely To Get Pneumonia

After former President George H.W. Bush was hospitalized with pneumonia, the news circulated about pneumonia and the effects it has on elderly adults. Pneumonia is the fourth leading cause of death for elderly adults when allowed to spiral out of control.

But why are older adults more likely to get pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection that causes inflammation in the lungs. Bacteria, fungi, and viruses can cause this infection in the lungs. While infants and young children are also prone to pneumonia, people older than 65 years old are prone to pneumonia because their immune systems are weakened.  

The immune system naturally deteriorates after the age of 50 that heightens chances an elderly adult will catch pneumonia.  Elderly people who have other health conditions are more likely to get this infection. Bush has Parkinson’s disease, which directly affects his ability cough effectively and heightened his chances of getting pneumonia.  

While pneumonia initially begins with flu-like symptoms, for elderly adults pneumonia can cause symptoms like confusion, change in mental awareness, and lower than normal body temperatures.  While your body usually repels the bacteria that cause pneumonia, the weakened immune systems of elderly adults allow these germs to overpower the immune system.

When pneumonia takes over the immune system it can cause other complications including difficult breathing, fluid build up in the lungs, abscess in the lungs or bacteria from the infection enters the blood stream. In these cases, patients may need to be admitted to the hospital to properly treat these complications.  During the cold weather, people are more likely to catch pneumonia.

How to elderly adults avoid pneumonia?

The best way for adults over 65 years old to prevent pneumonia is getting vaccinated for pneumonia and the flu.  Simply by eating a healthy diet, getting a sufficient amount of sleep, and washing your hands regularly, you can help protect your body from pneumonia.

The best way to prevent this disease from becoming a serious health concern is prevention. So be sure to wash your hands and eat your fruits and vegetables to keep your immune system strong.  We hope you stay healthy during this flu season!


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