And, contrary to popular belief, older adults suffer from seasonal allergies, too. “Allergies and asthma are diseases that affect individuals of all ages, and their prevalence is comparable in all age groups,” says an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
When Allergies First Appear in Older AdultsIn fact, allergies sometimes make their first appearance in the senior years. This is especially troublesome as conventional allergy treatments may not be a safe option for seniors.
Some create side effects, such as increased blood pressure, that must be avoided. Seniors who are unaccustomed to coping with the symptoms of seasonal allergies may suffer worse than those who have learned, over the years, to avoid common allergens.
Understand the Difference between Allergies and Other Nasal SymptomsSeasonal allergies often give rise to another issue common in older adults: Geriatric rhinitis. This simply means mucus and discomfort in the nose due to aging. The supporting cartilage around the nose often grows weak as we age, leading to narrowing airways and a stuffed nose. In addition, less blood flow can lead to nasal dryness.
Medications commonly prescribed for allergies, such as decongestants and antihistamines, can dry the nasal passages further and make the problem worse. On the other hand, modern antihistamines like loratidine or a nasal spray might be effective.
It’s important to rule out geriatric rhinitis before treating seasonal allergies. But there are steps you can take to alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies in seniors.
Identify and Avoid AllergensIt’s so obvious. But it bears repeating. Whether your aging loved one is allergic to flowers or freshly mowed grass, do whatever is possible to avoid allergens.
A doctor may prescribe prick-puncture skin testing to diagnose specific allergies. But if you can identify the allergens through trial and error, by eliminating suspected allergens and seeing if symptoms disappear, you may be able to avoid these tests.
More Tips to Decrease Allergy SymptomsOne common seasonal allergy is pollen. To avoid this allergen, check the pollen count in the local news and, if possible, discourage your aging family member from going outside on days when the count is high.
Additionally, these steps may help the senior you love avoid seasonal allergies:
- Have visitors remove their shoes before they enter your aging family member’s home so they don’t track pollen in.
- Dry laundry in a dryer, not outside on a clothesline.
- Keep windows closed on high-pollen days and use air conditioning, if possible.
Be Aware of Potential Medication InteractionsWhen all else fails, over-the-counter or prescription medications may help alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Check with your senior loved one’s pharmacist or doctor to ensure any over-the-counter allergy medications will not interact with prescribed medications or exacerbate other health conditions.
Try not to rely on allergy medications for more than a few days, however, as the body may develop an immunity and symptoms may actually worsen.
Enjoy Indoor Activities at a Five Star CommunityWhen seasonal allergies peak, help the older adult you love find ways to stay active indoors. It might be by streaming an old movie or working on a new hobby like watercolor painting.
Residents at Five Star Senior Living communities can count on enjoying a wide variety of indoor activities year round. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!