Aging, Senior Health and Indoor Air Quality
"Our bodies are not meant to breathe
the pollutants found indoors"
As of 2008, approximately 13 percent of the population in America was aged 65 and older. From 2007 to 2008, there was an increase of 927,305 people aged 65 and older in the United States alone. And with an estimated jump from 13 percent to 20 percent of elderly in the population for 2050, we are seeing a very large growth of the senior age group.
With new breakthroughs coming every day, science is pushing healthcare to new levels. Not only are we seeing a new age of people living substantially longer than they ever have before, but we are also beginning to get a greater understanding of the many variables that can have affects on the health of the human body, especially as our bodies change as
As bodies age, they unfortunately become more susceptible to various health problems and concerns. Viruses and infections that may have had little to no affect on the health of a twenty-something year old may now make a senior citizen quite ill, due to a weakened immune system, characteristic of growing older. For this reason, the majority of senior citizens will at one point begin needing someone to check in with them and provide care and assistance in various ways throughout the aging process.
Historically, caring for the elderly was a job undertaken by adult children and members of the community. However, due to the decline of multi-generational households and adults working outside of the home, we are beginning to see an age in which elderly care is shifting from being the responsibility of adult children to that of hired caretakers and nurses, most often due to hectic work schedules in dual-income homes, along with the time-consuming daily tasks of child-raising.
It often depends on the health and abilities of the person in question as to whether it’s possible for a senior to stay in their house, or if they need to make the difficult decision to move into a 24-hour senior care center. Regardless of whether they need to move to a facility for full-time care or whether they can stay at home with minimal care and check-ins from either yourself or a hired caretaker, the environment will need to be maintained in order to ensure that it is a safe location for the senior in question.
There was a time when safeguarding the homes and environments of our elderly family members was as simple as making sure floors weren’t too slippery or that handrails along porch steps were attached securely. Nowadays, however, we are beginning to get a greater idea of the many hazards that should be considered when looking through the potential hazards where our elderly loved ones may reside.
The difficult part about making sure that the environment in which they live is safe is the simple fact that even after having the visible problems taken care of – the faulty wiring or sharp corners on kitchen counters for example – there is no way of knowing whether there may be other contaminants, impossible to detect by the unaided human eye.
There are many unhealthy materials that can negatively impact the seniors in our lives. In older homes, materials like lead-based paint and asbestos can still be found, and if a home is in disrepair, these materials can break down and become airborne. This is also the case with other indoor air contaminants such as toxic mold, which grows in cases of elevated humidity or leaks, such as after a storm or following a leaky pipe hidden in a wall.
With growing data to support a connection between indoor mold and other contaminants and the declining health of the elderly and others with compromised immune systems, there is also a steadily growing trend of adult children and caretakers having tests conducted within the elder’s home to ensure proper indoor air quality and a safe living environment. With these tests conducted, you will be that much more comfortable in your knowledge that the loved seniors in your life are spending their golden and twilight years in safety and comfort.