Respiratory Illnesses

Angie SzumlinskiNews

Yep, here we are again, in the throws of another difficult respiratory illness season! Hopefully you and yours are prepared, are taking precautions and are up to date with your vaccinations! There is a lot of controversy regarding vaccinations, I get it, that said, many of our frail elders will not survive this flu season without these vaccines. As a healthy, community-based adult, your choices/decisions might be different than that of your residents and that’s okay. However, it is vitally important that your residents be protected!

Pneumonia, influenza, RSV, and any other respiratory infection can have devastating outcomes for your residents. Add to that, 1.7 million hospitalizations in the United States are a result of healthcare-associated infections (HAI). But did you know that sepsis and septic shock can result from an infection anywhere in the body, including pneumonia? Sepsis, which was often called blood poisoning, is the body’s life-threatening response to infection. Like strokes or heart attacks, sepsis is a medical emergency that requires rapid diagnosis and treatment and worldwide, one-third of people who develop sepsis dies.

Do I have your attention now? Ask yourself this, do your staff understand how dangerous infections are for your residents? Are they aware of the most common signs and symptoms of Pneumonia? Sure, they may seem generic but in a frail elder they can be fatal! There are several types of Pneumonia, however, their symptoms are the same, fever, cough with phlegm, shortness of breath, sweating, shaking chills, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, chest pain with breathing. Most residents won’t have all these symptoms, it depends on how severe the infection is. Please, take this time to reeducate your staff on closely monitoring your residents for signs of infection and remember, elevated body temperature is one of the later symptoms. If a resident has a “fever” you need to act now. Stay well and stay informed!