Respiratory therapists play a crucial role in helping older adults enjoy the best quality of life possible. But not everyone understands what these dedicated healthcare professionals do or how hard they work to provide care for older adults.
In honor of January being National Respiratory Care Month, we are working to raise awareness about this profession.
How Do Respiratory Therapists Help Seniors?
Respiratory therapists treat people that have trouble breathing due to illnesses affecting the cardiopulmonary system. They may also provide emergency care for incidents such as heart attacks or strokes.
While they work with people of all ages, many illnesses common among older adults require the care of a respiratory therapist. These include the following:
- Lung cancer
- Heart failure
- Interstitial lung disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Asthma and chronic bronchitis
- Pleural mesothelioma (rare cancer caused by asbestos)
You can find respiratory therapists working in a variety of settings, such as:
- Outpatient therapy clinic
- Nursing home
- Rehabilitation centers
- Home healthcare agencies
- Physician offices
- Sleep clinics
How are Respiratory Therapists Trained?
If you are a family caregiver for someone with a respiratory-related illness or a student contemplating a career in respiratory therapy, here’s what you should know.
Respiratory therapists fall into one of two categories:
- Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT): Students who graduate from a two-year associate’s degree program or a four-year bachelor’s degree program in respiratory therapy from an accredited college can earn a CRT. After graduation, they must pass a national written examination.
- Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT): The highest level of accreditation for a respiratory therapist is an RRT credential. After a student passes the national written exam, they can take a national voluntary clinical simulation examination. If they complete it successfully, they earn their RRT.
For those who are interested, the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) maintains a list of accredited respiratory care programs across the country.
Promoting Healthy Lifestyles
While some health problems that require the intervention of a respiratory therapist can’t be prevented, others can. You can keep your lungs healthy in a variety of ways, such as not smoking and avoiding radon gas.
Two preventative measures that can also help are maintaining an antioxidant-rich diet and engaging in regular exercise. Both are a part of everyday life at our Sunrise communities.
The best way to learn more is to visit one of our communities in person! Contact us today to schedule a private visit.