This year, in the third week of October, it’s time to thank respiratory therapists who play a crucial role in helping older adults enjoy their best quality of life. It’s also the moment to spread awareness and understanding of what these dedicated healthcare professionals do and how hard they work to provide care for older adults. Respiratory therapists can be found working in a variety of settings such as outpatient therapy clinics, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, home healthcare agencies, physician offices, and sleep clinics, So, how do respiratory therapists help seniors? Respiratory therapists treat people who have trouble breathing due to illnesses that affect the cardiopulmonary system. They may also provide emergency care for incidents such as heart attacks or strokes.
Professional respiratory therapists come in two different categories: Certified Respiratory Therapist (students who graduate from a two-year associate’s degree program or a four-year bachelor’s degree program in respiratory therapy and pass a national exam after graduation) or Registered Respiratory Therapist (this is the highest level of accreditation for a respiratory therapist earned bypassing the national written exam and then successfully completing a national voluntary clinical simulation examination).
Common illnesses among older adults that may require the care of a respiratory therapist are Lung cancer, heart failure, emphysema, influenza, pneumonia, interstitial lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and chronic bronchitis and pleural mesothelioma (rare cancer caused by asbestos). You can keep your lungs healthy by not smoking or vaping or avoiding radon gas and by maintaining an antioxidant-rich diet and engaging in regular exercise.