Medical Alerts for Seniors with Respiratory Disease

Medical Alerts for Seniors with Respiratory Disease

time icon 6 min read update icon Sept. 28, 2019


Respiratory diseases affect the lungs and airways. The most common types of respiratory diseases that afflict seniors are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, occupational lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension.

Respiratory Disease Overview

Respiratory diseases are chronic and tend to become progressively worse. In America, 14.8 million adults suffer from COPD, and 25 million suffer from asthma. Since 1980, the prevalence of respiratory diseases has increased. COPD now ranks as the 4th leading cause of death. Most forms of respiratory disease, such as COPD, occupational lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension, are preventable.

Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause in most cases. Unfortunately, many respiratory diseases lead to lung cancer. The American Cancer Society states that over 154,000individualsare estimated to die from lung cancer in 2018. It remains one of the leading causes of death among men and women. The average age of a lung cancer diagnosis is 70.

Respiratory Disease Impairment

Respiratory diseases make everyday activities difficult. Prescription medications can help improve lung function, but most are only effective for a limited time frame. This is because as time progresses, respiratory diseases become worse and less manageable. Many sufferers require oxygen to do any type of physical activity. Sufferers of respiratory diseases such as COPD have good days and bad days. Episodes of extreme symptoms can last for a few days and are called exacerbations.

Respiratory disease sufferers suffer from numerous impairments:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
  • Chest pain that is made worse by physical activities
  • A chronic cough that is worse when the sufferer exerts themselves
  • Lack of energy
  • Excessive mucus in the lungs, which makes breathing difficult
  • Swelling of the ankles and feet, which hinders movement
Medical Alert Benefits

Performing day-to-day activities becomes difficult with respiratory diseases. Often, just getting out of bed is virtually impossible. These physical impairments and weaknesses make a sufferer more prone to accidents such as falling. In the event of an emergency, calling for help using medical alerts becomes a life-saving benefit. If a sufferer should be unable to catch their breath and make a discernible phone call, then signaling for emergency assistance using medical alerts is a priceless benefit.

Symptoms of respiratory disease vary each day. During periods of exacerbations, the symptoms may be severe and render the sufferer virtually immobile.

Symptoms of respiratory disease:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Blue lips and fingernail beds
  • Chest pain
  • Chest tightness
  • Mucus in lungs
  • Chronic cough that often produces mucus
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of energy
  • Swelling in the feet, ankles and legs
  • Frequent respiratory infections
Safety Without Medical Alerts

A respiratory disease sufferer can live life without medical alerts, but certain precautions should be followed to maintain daily safety.

  • Swelling and breathlessness: Swollen extremities and breathlessness make physical activities difficult. Having a walker or cane can help a sufferer move from room to room. Handrails for support in the bath and shower are beneficial. A toilet support frame also assists a sufferer to safely stand and sit down. A stand-assist supports a senior getting in and out of bed. Installing non-slip flooring throughout the house may prevent a catastrophic fall.
  • Chronic cough and wheezing: Being unable to catch your breath because of extreme coughing and wheezing is not only frightening,it also makes it difficult or impossible to get up and move. The sufferer should have a cellphone on their person at all times to call for assistance. Phones should also be installed in all rooms to make calling for help easier.
  • Mobility issues: Respiratory diseases limit mobility and make it more difficult to traverse from room to room for simple tasks. Sufferers may want to consider installing a voice-controlled internet service such as Echo or Google Home, so that you can request that the room’s thermostat be turned down or up, or control the lights in a room, without ever having to leave your bed or chair. 
Respiratory Disease Precautions
  1. Avoid certain chores: Chores that entail heavy lifting or pushing should be avoided. Suffers from respiratory diseases need to abstain from raking, shoveling, scrubbing and mowing.
  2. Avoid the cold: Avoid doing things outdoors when the weather is extremely cold, because it can further hinder breathing.
  3. Never ignore pain: Sufferers of a respiratory disease often suffer from chest pain or tightness. However, if the pain should change or become more intense,seek medical help immediately.
  4. Avoid allergens: Respiratory disease sufferers must avoid allergens and excessive dust.
Respiratory Disease Medical Alerts Conclusion

The feeling of not being able to breathe and receive adequate oxygen is not only scary but physically uncomfortable. Sufferers never know when their symptoms may worsen and they may need to call for medical assistance. Medical alerts provide immediate access to life-saving services that could prove invaluable to the sufferer. Although many sufferers consider medical alerts a precaution that they may never use, the peace of mind that the service brings in the event of an emergency is often priceless.

Kimberly Sharpe - Senior Advisor

Kimberly is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.