Caring for someone with pneumonia
It can be worrying when someone you love has pneumonia and it can take time and care to recover. The good news is that pneumonia can often be treated safely at home. The GP will prescribe a course of antibiotics to overcome the infection and you can help them recuperate.
Bacterial pneumonia will require treatment with a course of antibiotics. Depending on the specific medication and the extent of infection, the treatment can last up to ten days and it’s essential to take the medication regularly and to finish the course.
If the person you care for struggles with their memory, give them a helping hand. Either remind them to take their tablets on time, set a regular alarm on their phone, or arrange for the pharmacist to place the drugs in a dosette box.
If they have pain or fever, paracetamol or ibuprofen (if they can safely tolerate it) can help ease their discomfort.
Rest for recovery
Pneumonia can take its toll on the body, so it’s vital that your loved one gets plenty of rest. That doesn’t have to mean strict bed rest, it’s good to have gentle activity. But it is important to encourage them to take it easy.
If you’re worried that they will stress about chores, or overdo things. Consider employing a home carer during their illness and their rehabilitation. They can help out around the house, prepare snacks and administer medication.
Food for recovery
Any significant illness can affect the appetite and pneumonia is no different. But a healthy diet is essential to maintain strength and energy and support the function of the immune system. Think about fresh vegetable soups, scrambled eggs, stews and regular small snacks to fuel their recovery.
Cool and comfortable
A fever is one of the body’s methods of fighting an infection. It’s effective but it can also be uncomfortable and rather sweaty. Choose cool cotton or linen nightwear and lighter bedding. It’s also useful to leave a change of clothing, a damp flannel and some towels close at hand to keep them dry and comfortable.
Fluids for rehydration
A fever will make the body lose essential fluid. Keep them hydrated with lots of fluids. Leave water by their bed and choose fluid-filled foods like soups, lollies and ice-cream.
It can be easier to breathe and cough to clear the lungs when they’re not lying flat. Prop them up with cushions, or try a triangular pillow- they can be bought cheaply and make things a little easier. If they slip down when they sleep, lifting the end of the mattress with a few books can keep their head a little raised.
Work the lungs
Taking regular deep breaths and clearing mucus from the lungs can improve recovery. Encourage them to exercise and strengthen their respiratory system with half a dozen long, slow breaths every few hours. Also, ensure they give a good cough to get rid of phlegm. If it hurts to cough, they can press on their ribs for support.
Even with effective treatment and good health it takes a long time to recover from pneumonia. For the elderly and infirm it can be even more debilitating. Tiredness is normal for as long as six months, so understand that they will need extra support during this challenging period.