How to Recognize Shortness of Breath in Your Senior
Your senior might have health conditions that make shortness of breath more likely for her, but in some cases, this can become a severe problem. If your senior can’t communicate with you, how can you tell she might be experiencing serious shortness of breath?
Keep Context Clues in Mind
What was your senior doing before you noticed her having trouble? If she was lifting something heavy or she just finished working out, shortness of breath might be an obvious side effect. But whenever you’re in doubt, ask her what’s going on and what caused what you’re seeing.
Is She Able to Speak?
When you talk to your elderly family member, is she able to speak to you? Some episodes of shortness of breath are so profound that your elderly family member literally doesn’t have the spare breath to talk. This might mean that she’s having bigger problems than either of you realize, so it’s important to see if she recovers in a minute or so. If she doesn’t, more help is needed.
How Is She Breathing?
One aspect of shortness of breath is that people start to feel air starved. Your senior’s entire body might get into the action of trying to breathe. She might start to raise her shoulders or her neck might appear to be straining. This is her body trying to help her fill her lungs. If this continues or gets worse, get help.
Is She Leaning or Supporting Herself?
Sometimes when someone is short of breath, standing or sitting upright can feel painful. You might notice your aging family member is leaning over or bent at the waist, supporting her upper body on her knees. These might be signs that she’s in distress, but the position can make it more difficult for her lungs to expand. Help her to lean up to open her chest and see if that helps.
Look for Pursed Lip Breathing
Pursed lip breathing is a technique that’s recommended for people who are experiencing shortness of breath. It’s also a natural response to difficulty getting enough air. If your elderly family member is spontaneously breathing via the pursed-lip technique.
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