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.

References

(1)   Public Health Agency of Canada. (2014). Chronic respiratory diseases. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/chronic-respiratory-diseases.html

(2)   Public Health Agency of Canada. (2008). How can I keep my lungs healthy? Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/chronic-respiratory-diseases/keep-lungs-healthy.html

(3)   U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018). Aging changes in the lungs. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004011.htm

(4)   Government of Canada. (2018). Canadian immunization guide chapter on influenza and statement on seasonal influenza vaccine for 2017–2018. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/canadian-immunization-guide-statement-seasonal-influenza-vaccine-2017-2018.html

(5)   Government of Canada. (2016). Canadian immunization guide: Part 4 - Active vaccines - Pneumococcal vaccine. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/canadian-immunization-guide-part-4-active-vaccines/page-16-pneumococcal-vaccine.html

This blog post provides general informaiton on the AirCare program in a questions and answers format. AirCare is a vehicle emissions monitoring program that has been introduced in many parts of the world.

This resource outlines some of the changes aging has on the body and their affects on the lungs. Information includes:

  • Changes to the bones and muscles of the chest and spine
  • Changes to lung tissue
  • Changes to the nervous system
  • Changes to the immune system
  • Common problems
  • Prevention
  • Other changes related to aging

This web page outlines the common environmental pollutants that can contribute to pulmonary diseases in both developed and developing countries. This resources 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 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 Information booklet provides tips and resources for the public, patients and families affected by COPD to prevent, manage and slow the effects of the disease to improve their health and better manage the disease. Describes what COPD is and the symptoms. 40 Pages.