Spring is a refreshing time of year punctuated by colorful blooming flowers and more sunshine as winter finally fades away. But springtime also ushers in allergy season for millions of Americans, as countless pollen particles and other allergens fill the air. As a result, scratchy throats, sneezing, runny noses, and itchy, watery eyes are common.

For those aged 65-and-over, allergy season presents more serious challenges; ones that can interfere with their health and wellbeing. And, when you’re serving as a caregiver for an aging in place loved one, that’s concerning. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to help at-home seniors deal with allergy season.

Why Allergies Impact the Elderly More

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. Many elderly persons also have other pre-existing medical conditions that affect breathing, like cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, or other kinds of pulmonary disease.

When exposed to environmental allergens that can further restrict their breathing, those seniors are placed at risk for a heart attack, shortness of breath, or other serious health problem. For many it’s stressful, and limits their outdoor activities, exercise and socializing.

Proven Ways for Seniors to Manage Allergies

If you are assisting a senior loved one who you suspect is experiencing seasonal allergies, there are several reliable ways to help make those times of year more tolerable, such as:

Look for Allergy Signs

In addition to the allergy symptoms mentioned earlier, seniors will oftentimes experience shortness of breath and fatigue when airborne allergen levels are high. Just because your loved one didn’t have an allergy before doesn’t mean they don’t now, as adult-onset allergies can occur at any age.

Notify Their Doctor

Healthcare professionals, including physicians, sometimes have a hard time diagnosing allergies in seniors because of their other chronic medical conditions. Patients with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia oftentimes can’t clearly articulate their symptoms. As a caregiver, you need to inform their doctor about any concerns you may have related to a potential allergy.

Don’t Delay

As was pointed out, allergies can place an elderly person with pre-existing cardiac or lung disease at significant risk. For that reason, don’t hesitate when it comes to getting them the allergy relief they need. Be leery of antihistamines. Most allergy sufferers today stop by the local pharmacy and grab an OTC antihistamine to treat their symptoms. In the elderly, antihistamines can sometimes induce side effects like drowsiness, confusion, urine retention, dry mouth and eyes, and dizziness. Those side effects can make accidental falls more likely, and induce other problems like urinary tract infections (UTIs). Speak with their doctor about alternative allergy treatments like a topical drug or nasal steroid.

Reduce Allergen Exposure

For the average sufferer, seasonal allergies are triggered by elevated levels of pollen or mold in their environment. Make it a point to monitor the news for daily pollen counts and allergy warnings, and avoid taking your loved one outside when alerts have been issued. When that’s impossible, like when they have a doctor’s appoi