How to Minimize Effects of Aging Lungs (Nursing)

by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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    00:01 So, what do we do? How do we help our patients? How do we help Enrique take steps that move more toward Jose's life experience? Well, helping them develop a routine of regular aerobic exercises, meaning it causes you to have to breathe a little bit harder will be a better workout for their lungs.

    00:20 Now work with your patient, know what they're capable of.

    00:23 You know, if they have difficulty with their joints that may consider something like water aerobics, or senior exercise classes that are joint-friendly.

    00:33 There's lots of ways to do aerobic exercise that don't have to include running.

    00:39 If the patient smokes or vapes, you want to encourage them to look for ways that they can minimize that in an effort to stop it completely.

    00:47 Now, there's been a lot in the research about vaping.

    00:50 And we know that initially, people thought that was safer.

    00:53 And we're finding out that it is absolutely not safer than smoking.

    00:57 So either smoking or vaping without judgment, if you discover in your assessment that the patient has this habit, just talk to them about it and look for ways that you can encourage them to consider minimizing and hopefully eventually getting the point where they can stop altogether.

    01:15 Now, it's best for all of us if you limit your exposure to environmental pollution.

    01:21 Some people don't have the luxury of this based on where they live.

    01:24 But if you do, so try to limit your exposure to that as best you can.

    01:29 Secondhand smoke can be just as detrimental as if you were a smoker.

    01:33 So that can become a touchy subject if someone lives with someone who smokes.

    01:38 Now dust and other toxins, it's just better to breathe oxygen instead of air that has toxins like dust and smoke and environmental factors in it.

    01:51 Now, maintaining a healthy weight helps every system in your body and the respiratory system is no exception.

    01:57 You also want to get your pneumonia and flu vaccines as indicated or needed.

    02:01 All elderly clients are recommended to get the pneumonia and vaccine shots on a regular basis.

    02:08 Now if I'm a nurse, what are special respiratory nursing actions that I would do? Well, if I want to keep them safe and the patient is having difficulty breathing or they're at a risk for aspirating something, I always want to keep the head of the bed elevated.

    02:24 So head of the bed elevated is the best way to maintain patent airways.

    02:29 So whether I'm feeding a patient, whether having trouble breathing, I'm worried about them aspirating, I'm always going to want that head of the bed up or elevated.

    02:38 Watch them for the need for oxygen.

    02:40 So we're going to supplement their oxygen as they needed.

    02:43 They may need a nasal cannula or a mask or some other type of oxygen administration, but watch them to see if they need additional oxygen supplements.

    02:54 Now incentive spirometry, nobody likes it, right? Nobody likes doing it, especially if they've had any trauma to their chest wall or to a surgery.

    03:04 It is uncomfortable but it's a simple, not very sexy nursing intervention but it is the bomb.

    03:12 You need incentive spirometry, because what does it cause you to do? To take deep breaths, and we can measure them.

    03:19 So we can encourage you to take bigger and bigger, deeper and deeper breaths.

    03:25 So again, it's not super sexy, but it is really effective.

    03:30 You want to make sure the patient doesn't get dehydrated.

    03:33 See if the patient has a pneumonia and they've got a bunch of gunk in their lungs.

    03:38 If they become dehydrated, it's hard for us to get that out of their lungs, it kind of becomes like cement down in there.

    03:46 So we want to make sure that they stay well hydrated.

    03:49 Of course you would consider the patient has any renal problems or CHF problems.

    03:54 So you want to keep them appropriately hydrated for their medical history.

    03:58 Now moving around helps everybody and this is no exception when someone's in the hospital.

    04:03 Mobility is a priority.

    04:06 You don't want somebody staying in bed or sitting in a chair all day ever.

    04:10 Whether they're at home or in the hospital, the more you can move them, the better their body will function, particularly their lungs.

    04:18 The mobility and incentive spirometry are two of the best ways to ward off pneumonia.

    04:24 For clients who are at risk.

    04:25 Now you have to help your patient understand coughing is important.

    04:30 So if they have an abdominal incision, you would want to splint that meaning you would take a pillow and you would hold it against their chest while they cough.

    04:38 We want to encourage them to take the strongest cough that they can, none of that little stuff.

    04:45 You want them to be able to take a big breath in and cough as hard as they can in order to make it effective.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture How to Minimize Effects of Aging Lungs (Nursing) by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN is from the course Assessment of the Geriatric Patient: Respiratory System (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. “Consider vaping instead of smoking cigarettes, as it has a much less detrimental effect on the lungs.”
    2. “Regular aerobic exercise, like running or swimming, can help prevent respiratory complications.”
    3. “It is important to try and limit your exposure to secondhand smoke.”
    4. “It is highly recommended to get a pneumonia vaccine, as well as a flu shot, every year.”
    1. Instructing the client to avoid coughing as much as possible to prevent surgical site complications.
    2. Encouraging the client to ambulate as much as tolerated.
    3. Instructing the client on how to use their incentive spirometer.
    4. Encouraging the client to keep hydrated.
    1. Elevate the head of the bed.
    2. Apply oxygen and call a code blue.
    3. Obtain an oxygen saturation level on the client.
    4. Encourage the client to use their incentive spirometer.

    Author of lecture How to Minimize Effects of Aging Lungs (Nursing)

     Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

    Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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