With Senior Citizen Day coming up on August 21, we’d like to give a shout out to aging members of society who have made lasting contributions in our communities. As the body ages, it becomes subject to a number of health problems—including allergies. Allergies may continue indefinitely throughout a person’s life, or they may develop for the first time in the golden years.
Senior citizens may feel their allergies in the form of watery eyes and a runny nose. But unlike other allergy sufferers, seniors have may additional illnesses that compound their allergy problems or react with allergy medications.
Caregivers can help make the allergy season bearable for seniors by doing the following:
- Be aware – Watch for the traditional symptoms of seasonal allergies. The symptoms are generally the same in the elderly as they are for people of all ages. Caregivers should recognize the common signs of allergic reactions, including hay fever, eczema, hives, asthma, and conjunctivitis.
- Talk to the doctor – Doctors often focus on a person’s most pressing health issues. In the case of the elderly, they may skip over allergy symptoms to discuss other health problems. Allergies may not affect the quantity of life, but they can compromise its quality. Make sure that seniors talk to their doctor about their allergy symptoms. Allergies can make life highly uncomfortable and even compound existing health problems.
- Go easy on the use of traditional antihistamines – Antihistamines are often the drug of choice for allergy sufferers. While these work well with people in other age groups, they can cause side effects which can be dangerous for the elderly, including confusion, urinary retention, drowsiness, and dizziness. Antihistamines are also known to affect the mood and behavior of seniors and interact poorly with other medications. Make sure seniors talk to a physician before taking antihistamines.
Senior citizens in the southeast area of the Valley of the Sun can contact a Gilbert allergy doctor. They may prescribe allergy immunotherapy, the only treatment shown to change the underlying allergy. Immunotherapy is available in two main forms: sublingual drops or injections. For Gilbert allergy shots or drops, contact your local allergist.