Helping older residents through allergy season

April showers may bring May flowers, but this time of year can mean misery for millions of allergy sufferers. Pollen allergy, known as “hay fever,” is the most common culprit behind this seasonal discomfort. As flowers, weeds, trees, grass and other plants begin to bloom, they release pollen into the air. This release can trigger a number of allergic reactions, ranging from mild to severe. The most common reactions are sneezing, runny nose, congestion and itchy, watery eyes. More serious reactions include difficulty breathing, mental confusion and swelling of the lips, tongue or throat.
Pollen allergy is a common condition among the older population but may go undiagnosed. For example, a runny nose may be thought to be a result of a condition called nonallergic rhinitis. It can be caused by weather changes, air quality, strong smells and even eating. Allergies in older people may also be under-diagnosed because the development of allergies is more common in the younger population. However, it is possible for older people to develop new allergies, especially if they move to a new environment with high levels of new allergens.
Long-term care residents, especially older ones, may have chronic diseases that can make managing their allergy symptoms more complicated. If an older resident has allergies, their doctor should help them determine the best course of treatment. Most allergy medications are safe for seniors, however; some medicines may aggravate existing medical problems or cause more serious ones. For example, some decongestants may increase blood pressure and cause insomnia. Others can be overly sedating, which can put an older resident at risk for falls.
While there is no cure for pollen allergies, long-term care providers can help make the allergy season more bearable. The following tips can assist with caring for pollen allergy sufferers.
• Be proactive. Allergy symptoms in older adults can often be overlooked. Document all allergy symptoms and make sure their doctor is aware of them.
• Check outdoor air quality every day. The local weather forecast should give some indication of air conditions and pollen count. If not, go to the Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow site for a regional forecast.
• Limit the amount of outdoor activities. If outdoor activities are planned, avoid the peak pollen hours of 5 to 10 a.m.
• Encourage staff and outside visitors to brush pollen from their clothes and wash their hands to reduce the amount of pollen they transfer to residents.
Turenne PharMedCo Pharmacy Services, offers quality medication dispensing solutions at competitive prices. We employ a highly-experienced clinical staff who specialize in geriatric pharmacy. To learn more go to www.turennepharmedco.com or call 866-710-7626. 

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