Helping Seniors with Allergies: 9 Important Relief Tips
The welcome warmer temperatures of spring can come as a breath of fresh air after a long winter, with blossoming trees and greening grass brightening the scenery. But for many people—seniors included—the blossoms and grasses of spring do not bring a breath of fresh air: They bring the congestion, sneezing, wheezing and itchy eyes of allergies.
In fact, the population of seniors with allergies is increasing as the general population sees an increase in allergic sensitivity overall. But giving your elderly loved ones an over-the-counter antihistamine isn’t always the best idea. Senior citizens have extra risks with allergies and allergy medications that can clash with other medications they are taking and conditions they are experiencing. So, if you have a senior loved one in your family who struggles with seasonal allergy attacks, talk with their doctor and contact At Home Personal Care at (703) 494-3989 about help from an in-home caregiver. We can help as you follow these tips for helping relieve their symptoms safely:
1. Talk with Your Doctor
It’s very important to understand your senior loved one’s current health status and the side effects of any medications they are taking for other conditions. Help your loved one describe their current allergy symptoms. Your doctor may also consider having allergy tests done to pinpoint particular allergens so that you have a better idea of how to help your loved one avoid them. The doctor may also know about an allergy-control medication that won’t interfere with any other medications or medical treatments they are undergoing at that time—just keep in mind that it’s very important to consult with the doctor before adding another medication to your loved one’s current list of medications.
2. Watch the Weather
Certain weather patterns can increase the amount of pollen, mold or dust in the air, which can aggravate allergy symptoms. Many weather websites include a pollen count measurement as part of their offerings, so keep an eye on predicted pollen levels and plan outdoor activities during times when the pollen levels are less severe. Rain generally washes pollen and dust out of the air for a time, but a few hours later, plants may increase their pollen production. Damp weather can also bring out mold spores that can be irritating for many allergy sufferers. The key is to know what you are allergic to, and to avoid being outside when the offending allergens are flying. Timing is everything.
3. Close the Windows, Change the Filters
Making your loved one’s home a haven away from allergy symptoms can be a very involved process. If your loved one suffers from outdoor pollen allergies, keeping the windows closed and the air conditioner filters fresh can be a big help. An in-home caregiver can assist with dusting, vacuuming and checking for areas of the home where allergens are a problem.
4. The Same Goes for Car Travel
While driving places, make sure to drive with the windows rolled up and the air conditioning on to reduce exposure to outdoor pollens and other airborne irritants. Just remember to put the air conditioner on “recirculate” to keep from inviting outdoor pollens into the mix.
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5. Avoid Lawnmowers
Try to avoid places where landscaping activities like lawn mowing are taking place, as these cause more pollen and dust to fly through the air. If there are particularly allergenic landscape plants around your loved one’s home, it may be a good idea to hire a landscaping service to remove and replace them with less allergenic plants or non-plant, hardscape features. Also, whenever lawn mowing or landscaping activities are afoot, keep the windows closed whenever this is happening at your house.
6. Keep Laundry Indoors
Part of avoiding outdoor allergens includes not hanging laundry up to dry outside where it can collect pollen, mold spores and dust. And if you need to work outside when the pollen is high, prepare to change clothes immediately after going inside: Deposit the outdoor clothes directly into the washing machine to avoid tracking pollen and dust through the house or leaving it on the furniture or bedding. Washing hair, face and exposed skin right away will also help minimize bringing outdoor allergens indoors.
7. If You Must Go Outside During a Pollen Flare Up:
Make sure your senior loved one has taken any precautions or medications directed by their doctor. They can also wear a hat and sunglasses to shield their eyes from pollen and dust exposure. After returning home, change clothing and wash hands and face. This can help reduce continued pollen irritation. You might help your senior loved one switch from bathing in the morning to bathing at night before bed as well. This prevents pollen and dust from getting on the bedding at night and can improve sleeping.
8. Allergy-Friendly Housekeeping
It’s important, even indoors, to reduce allergy irritants. Make sure to keep clothes and bedding regularly laundered and the home regularly dusted and floors vacuumed. Using allergy-protective bedding covers is helpful too. If this is hard for your senior loved one to do, an in-home caregiver can really help out with these light housekeeping tasks to keep allergens down and make sure your loved one is sticking with any other doctor-recommended allergy reduction strategy.
9. Consider an Air Purifier
There are many different models of air purifiers that can help circulate the indoor air to remove allergens. Because allergy problems can be worse at night and in the morning, at least consider an air purifier in the bedroom to make sleeping easier.
Dealing with allergies is nearly a full-time job, and can be quite frustrating to tackle alone. If you’re struggling with keeping your loved one’s allergy symptoms at bay, an in-home caregiver can provide a great deal of assistance and support, which can improve your loved one’s quality of life. Contact At Home Personal Care to find out how our caregivers can help your senior loved one reduce their allergy struggles: (703) 494-3989.
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