In general, none of these changes would make an elderly person tolerate a incoming infection more effectively than a younger person and therefore, the principles behind preventing pneumonia in the elderly would be, to identify the deficient systems, gather the probable risk factors and take measures to improve such deficiencies, avoid risks as well as to detect and treat infections early.
When considering the possible causes of pneumonia in the elderly individuals, aspiration pneumonia would be playing one of the major roles along with other causes which may not be so specific towards the elderly age group. Therefore, it is probable to state that, elderly patients whom are debilitated through a stroke are the most susceptible of the lot along with persons who have reflux disease. At the same time, it should be remembered that, many of the causes which lead to pneumonia in the other age groups would do the same probably at a higher virulence in the elderly individuals as well. Therefore, the measures that we plan to take in protecting an elderly person from developing pneumonia would have to cover all these possibilities and should therefore integrate following measures as probable preventive strategies.
Vaccinating for pneumonia
At present, the vaccination for pneumonia is recommended for elders who are above the age of 65 years and for those who are at a higher risk of developing the same. It has shown to be effective in preventing influenza virus related pneumonia to a larger extent and would be an effective method to prevent pneumonia especially in institutional settings.
Maintaining adequate oral hygiene
It has been found that in many of the aspiration related pneumonias, the infective organism can be traced back to the Oropharynx and this epitomizes the importance of maintaining adequate oral care in individuals who are susceptible for aspiration or have a higher risk of aspiration than others.
Practicing hand washing techniques
By adhering to proper hand washing techniques, it would be possible to prevent the spread of an infective organism and therefore the occurrence of pneumonia like infection. This sort of hand washing should be practiced by the elderly as well as by others following interacting with other people, in public places or else after hanging around with a person who is suspected of having a respiratory tract infection.
Using antibiotics cautiously
When antibiotics are given haphazardly, the bacteria can colonize rather rapidly in case if they develop resistance to such antibiotics. Therefore, taking medical advice, adhering to the prescribed dosage, giving the drug in the prescribed frequency…etc should be practiced when taking medications.
Avoid reflux disease
As mentioned before, this has been thought of as one of the contributors towards the development of silent aspiration pneumonias and therefore should be controlled as much as possible during the elderly age.