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Articles in Category: Health Literacy

Respiratory Therapy Can Benefit Older Adults with Chronic Conditions

Respiratory Therapy Can Benefit Older Adults with Chronic Conditions

October 23rd – 29th is Respiratory Care Week. During this week healthcare professionals and patients recognize respiratory therapists and acknowledge the importance of respiratory care. Older adults, especially those with two or more chronic conditions, require constant assessment of both acute and chronic respiratory function. Many factors including aging, genetics, pollutants and irritants can affect lung health. The common cold and flu can cause upper respiratory infections and chronic respiratory conditions, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. 

Older adults are more susceptible to pneumonia, inflammation of the lungs caused by an infection with a bacterium or virus, following the flu or during lengthy hospital stays. Age-related changes in the lung strength compound the effects of heart and lung diseases. Patients with a history of smoking or long-term exposure to environmental pollutants may be at increased risk for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD is characterized by difficulty exhaling or in “blowing air out.” Chronic conditions or age-related decline in heart function can limit mobility and capabilities for exercise. This may decrease aerobic exercise that can strengthen respiratory muscles and support breathing.

Health Literacy Means Better Patient Outcomes

Health Literacy Means Better Patient Outcomes

Being able to process and navigate the right information in a timely manner is increasingly important for older adults with two or more chronic diseases. As information, choices, and decisions about health care become more available and complex, aging patients require more assistance with making sense of the options before them.

Health literacy is defined as the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of patients to access, understand, and use healthcare information in ways that promote and maintain good health. Poor health literacy in older adults is associated with widening gaps in care, increased hospitalizations and readmissions, poor understanding of discharge planning, and lower medication compliance. Lower health literacy increases use of health care services, and several safety issues, including medical and medication errors.

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