Articles of Interest


5 Early Warning Signs of Pneumonia in a Senior

Pneumonia is a lung infection and can be very tricky to identify in older adults. Some pneumonia symptoms in the elderly can be mild or not present at all. 

Mild pneumonia, or sometimes referred to as “walking pneumonia," can cause older adults to feel a bit "under the weather," but normally doesn't require a trip to the emergency room. However, certain pneumonia symptoms can be strong and would require immediate transportation to the hospital.

While there is no single cause for pneumonia, advanced age is considered to be a top a risk factor for this serious health problem. Confusion and/or delirium are red-flag signs of pneumonia in elderly people as well as lower-than-normal body temperatures. Other signs, which can sometimes be confused with a cold and the flu, include:

  • Chest pain during breathing or coughing
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath

While it can be hard for family members to spot these signs, professional in-home care providers are trained to monitor and track these symptoms.

Minimize the Risks of Pneumonia in the Elderly

There are a few easy steps to avoid complications and decrease pneumonia risks in your elderly loved one.

Experts recommend pneumonia treatment at home to include:

  • Rest, rest and more rest. Remember, pneumonia is sneaky and can recur. Just because your loved one feels better, he or she may not be fully recovered. It is generally better not to jump back into a normal routine until you are positive he or she is recovered. Not sure? Ask a doctor.


  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water will help loosen the mucus in your loved one’s lungs, clearing them sooner.


  • Finish medication. It is always important to take all prescribed medications. With pneumonia, doing so is particularly important as bacteria can stay in the lungs, multiply and trigger a recurrence.

Living a healthy lifestyle can greatly reduce the risk of contracting pneumonia, so it’s not a bad idea to help encourage your loved one to start doing so if they haven’t already.

If you’re a caregiver for your elderly loved one and live far away, or can’t be there 24/7, you might worry about catching warning signs like these. Read more in Don't Wait for the Holidays: How to Be Proactive About Staying On Top of Your Elderly Parent's Care.

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