We all benefit from breathing clean air. Air that’s free of pollutants can minimize allergy symptoms, improve lung function, boost mental health, and even increase our life span. But, while clean air is healthy for all of us, it can be a necessity for certain populations, including the elderly. A high quality air purifier that uses a True HEPA filter is the most effective way to keep indoor air clean. Here are some of the most important reasons that seniors should use an air purifier.
Air quality affects memory and cognition
A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that consistent exposure to high levels of air pollution can reduce cognitive function. The problem becomes even more severe for the elderly. According to the researchers, seniors who breathe polluted air can lose cognitive function equivalent to a few years of education.
Even more troubling, a new study suggests that air pollution may trigger Alzheimer’s-like brain changes and speed memory decline in older adults. For seniors who are already struggling with dementia or memory loss, exposure to low-quality air can have a devastating effect on cognition through their remaining years.
Low air quality can negate the benefits of exercise
Moderate outdoor exercise can help seniors live longer, healthier lives. Exercise improves lung and heart function, reduces heart disease and strokes, and helps manage diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and joint and muscle pain.
But, a study published in the Lancet suggests that the benefits of outdoor exercise may be negated by pollution. Researchers surveyed over a hundred seniors while they spent time walking outdoors. The seniors who walked in a park experienced lower blood pressure and improved flexibility, while those who walked on a busy London street received little to no observable benefits. Scientists suspect that the particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide from passing vehicles negated the health benefits of their exercise.
Respiratory issues can be deadly for seniors.
Elderly adults are at increased risk for severe respiratory disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that people 65 and older are more at risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Respiratory issues are so pervasive among seniors that they’ve been ranked as the fourth-largest health concern.
It isn’t just that respiratory issues are more common in seniors, they can also be more debilitating, and often even lethal. In fact, according to Everyday Health, respiratory issues are the third-largest cause of death among the elderly.
Seniors are not always capable of managing allergies and asthma symptoms sufficiently.
Allergy and asthma symptoms are typically disruptive, but, in extreme cases, can be harmful or even deadly. Researchers in Australia suggest that seniors may suffer more symptoms of asthma because physical or cognitive disabilities hinder their ability to take inhalers or other preventative measures consistently. Declining lung strength and medication side-effects may also contribute to the severity of asthma symptoms in seniors.
Likewise, allergy symptoms brought on by mold, dust, or pet hair may be more intense for seniors who are not physically able to maintain their homes.
Low-quality air can increase the risk of strokes
A Brown University Study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found a connection between air pollution and an increase in the risk of stroke.
Their findings suggest that even small amounts of air particles that are within the Environmental Protection Agency’s level of safety can increase the risk of stroke. Since roughly 75% of strokes occur in people over 65 years old, this link between pollutants and strokes is particularly concerning for the elderly.
Air Purifiers can help lower illness transmission
COVID is the most notable example of how illness can impact the elderly much more severely. Over 95% of COVID deaths have occurred in those older than 60 years.
But, COVID isn’t the only illness that affects the elderly more severely. Older people are more susceptible to a variety of viral infections, especially respiratory diseases. Because aging impacts the immune system, seniors are much more likely to have complications or even die from illnesses that would typically be mild in more robust populations.
Low-quality air can shorten the lifespan of elderly adults
Seniors today are more active than ever. Many can expect to live long, productive lives if they continue to prioritize their health. Unfortunately, pollution can take away some of the time they have left.
Globally, low air quality is responsible for 4.2 million deaths a year. And, considering that 91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality exceeds the World Health Organization’s guideline limits, pollution is a real threat to life expectancy.
And it isn’t just outdoor air that’s concerning. In fact, indoor air is typically even worse. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that “studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times — and occasionally more than 100 times — higher than outdoor levels.”
Of all the dangerous pollutants in the air, the most hazardous to the health of seniors are PM 2.5 and ultrafine particles. PM2.5, along with the even tinier ultrafine particles, are composed of a mixture of solid and liquid particles that are suspended in the air. PM2.5 particles are easily inhaled and are able to penetrate deep into the respiratory system.
One recent study called PM 2.5 “the largest environmental risk factor worldwide,” responsible for many more deaths than alcohol use, physical inactivity, or high sodium intake. Another study showed that air pollution reduces global life expectancy by more than a year.
Fortunately, a high-quality air purifier with a True HEPA filter is very effective at filtering out almost all of the harmful pollutants from indoor air. In fact, although HEPA filters only need to be able to remove 99.95% or more of all particles which are 0.3 microns in diameter, they are actually capable of filtering out particles of almost any size. A True HEPA filter can trap dust, mold, smoke, pet allergens, viruses and bacteria, and even those dangerous PM2.5 which can steal away precious years from our elderly citizens.