How Does Air Pollution Affect the Elderly, and What Can be Done About it?
Senior citizens do not have it easy when it comes to immune system strength and wellbeing in polluted environments. It’s therefore important to consider that, from healthcare environments such as hospitals to nursing homes and elsewhere, they can encounter hardships with their health and comfort that younger folks might not experience so easily. So, how does air pollution affect the elderly specifically? Let’s take a look.
Elderly individuals are affected more by the “heaviness” of the air they breathe, which represents the amount of air moisture content they are exposed to. Oversaturation, usually meaning high relative humidity, can introduce a range of respiratory issues and endanger their health. Those with pre-existing issues such as asthma, pneumonia or weakened lungs from another illness are particularly at risk, as are those who require specialized breathing assistance equipment.
Discomfort and Irritation
When we get older, the weather affects us more dramatically. The same applies to the quality of the air we breathe; low-humidity conditions can introduce dry skin and eyes, sore throats, general irritability, and discomfort. Mental focus and alertness can also be negatively affected. Typically, these unwanted symptoms are the direct result of relative humidity that deviates from the “safe zone” of 40 to 60 percent RH.
An influenza outbreak is every nursing home’s worst nightmare. Senior citizens simply have weaker immune systems that just can’t weather viral infections as well. That’s why nursing homes and other facilities need to combat low humidity, which, according to a Yale University study, impairs barrier function and innate resistance against influenza strains and other forms of airborne bacteria.
What can be Done About it?
Proper humidity control is essential to keeping senior citizens safe, comfortable, and at the lowest possible risk of contracting an infectious illness. It also works to limit the number of hazards indoors such as electrostatic discharges and the spread of allergens like dust. For instance, if you operate a nursing home, investing in a high-efficiency humidifier will definitely help protect your clients and even your workers from unwanted health and wellness issues. Also, consider avoiding carpeting where possible and have your ventilation inspected for optimal filtration.
In the end, how does air pollution affect the elderly? It all boils down to comfort, safety, and wellness. Regardless of whether you’re looking to avoid the worst of flu season or simply want to breathe easier – literally – the team at Condair is happy to help. Reach out to us today to learn more about our cost-effective humidification solutions.