More than half of American homes have mold problems, and 38% of the population are genetically susceptible to the health issues mold can cause. Seniors tend to be more susceptible to the effects of mold as they often have weaker immune systems, poorer lung function, and take medications for other health problems that can make them vulnerable. Removing mold from their homes and preventing future problems can help to maintain and improve their health.
The general health impacts of mold
The symptoms and severity someone will have when exposed to mold will depend on the type of mold, concentration level, and their overall health, but symptoms generally include nasal and sinus problems, a cough, sore throat, tightness in the chest, and breathing problems. People with asthma and some allergies are likely to notice their symptoms exacerbate. Prolonged exposure to mold can lead to hypersensitivity, pulmonary injury, and even some types of cancer. Seniors are more at risk of health problems from mold exposure as lung function declines with age. The nervous system also changes and nerves that trigger coughing can become less sensitive, meaning they won’t cough out mold spores and other contaminants that enter the airways which can then build up in the body.
Identifying a mold problem
Identifying a mold problem can be relatively easy, especially once it spreads, because it’s usually visible. Once you spot mold, it’s important to look around a senior’s home to see if there’s any more. Areas with high humidity are the most likely to have mold problems, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. As seniors are more susceptible to the effects of mold and also tend to be in poorer health, identifying and removing mold from their homes can significantly improve their health. If they have new symptoms, particularly respiratory ones, remove the mold and see if their condition improves and then speak to their doctor as they may be able to stop or reduce medications that were prescribed, such as inhalers.
Removing and preventing mold
The best way to control mold is by preventing it. Using a dehumidifier in the home, particularly in high-risk areas, and keeping the humidity levels at approximately 50% will keep levels comfortable while making the environment less ideal for mold to grow. Opening windows regularly and having houseplants that improve indoor air quality can also help. Removing mold can vary from a quick, easy job to something to requires professional help, such as if it’s in multiple rooms or keeps returning. Generally, a bleach and water solution will kill mold spores and helps to remove any stains it can leave behind or you can use specific bleach cleaning products. Professionals can help to find and fix the source of the mold but this can require seniors to temporarily move out.
Mold can have detrimental effects on anyone’s health, but elderly people are more susceptible as their health is generally poorer and their body’s are weaker. This is why it’s so important to keep their home mold-free and regularly check for problems.