Caregiver Resources - Lungs & Respiration

Chronic respiratory diseases are long-term conditions that negatively affect a person’s breathing pathway and lungs (1). Some of the most common are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and sleep apnea (1). These conditions have a major impact on an individual’s health and quality of life (1).

Outdoor and indoor air pollution, work-related health hazards and smoking (including second hand smoke) are major causes of chronic respiratory diseases (2). The aging process also makes an individual more vulnerable to respiratory disease due to changes in lung tissue, the immune system and the musculoskeletal (muscle and bone) system (3). These changes can increase an older person’s risk of lung infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis), and cause shortness of breath and unusual breathing patterns which can lead to episodes of stopped breathing during sleep, also known as sleep apnea (3).

Avoiding cigarette smoke and participating in regular physical exercise can help prevent chronic respiratory disease and decrease the effects of aging on the lungs (3). Additionally, older people are at a high risk of experiencing complications from the influenza virus or “the flu”. The influenza vaccine or “flu shot” decreases the incidence of pneumonia, hospital admissions and deaths in the older population (4). Also, the Pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against the serious consequences of pneumonia, is recommended for all adults aged 65 and older (5).

Talk with the family physician to figure out the best way for your family/friend to maintain a healthy respiratory system.


(1)   Public Health Agency of Canada. (2014). Chronic respiratory diseases. Retrieved from

(2)   Public Health Agency of Canada. (2008). How can I keep my lungs healthy? Retrieved from

(3)   U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018). Aging changes in the lungs. Retrieved from

(4)   Government of Canada. (2018). Canadian immunization guide chapter on influenza and statement on seasonal influenza vaccine for 2017–2018. Retrieved from

(5)   Government of Canada. (2016). Canadian immunization guide: Part 4 - Active vaccines - Pneumococcal vaccine. Retrieved from

This information page provides an overview of asbestosis, its symptoms, diagnosis, prevention and treatment. This resource offers a ' 'consumer version', with information in plain language, and a 'professional version' wtih more information and resources for individuals who have a more advanced level of medical literacy.

This Canadian website provides resources and information on diseases which affect the respiratory tract along with clinical practice guidelines to optimize the management of respiratory diseases. Topics include COPD, Asthma, Sleep apnea, TB, Infectious diseases, etc.

This fact sheet provides information for patients and families about COPD including diagnosis, management and staying healthy. 2 Pages.

This page from the Public Health Agency of Canada provides general information on chronic respiratory diseases. It also provides other resources related to chronic respiratory diseases such as facts and figures, knowledge development and exchange, initiatives, strategies, systems and programs, and links to other resources.

This patient health education fact sheet provides information about asthma including causes and management strategies to support decision making. 2 Pages.