Getting older can bring about health challenges. As people age, the body goes through natural changes that affect the major organs, including the lungs. Breathing can become impaired due to bone loss and muscle weakness in the chest area. Changes to the nervous system and to lung tissue near the airway can affect normal oxygen flow. The immune system also can get weaker, making older patients more susceptible to lung infections such as pneumonia.
Common respiratory diseases experienced by older patients include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema. As the population ages, the number of cancer cases also rises. The majority of people diagnosed with lung cancer are over age 65. Often, older adults with respiratory conditions have co-existing medical issues and take multiple medications. Geriatric care is complex and requires attention from a community of caregivers, including family members and health professionals.
Board-certified pulmonologists and thoracic surgeons at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Lung Center are uniquely trained in the care of elderly patients. They collaborate closely with a broad spectrum of medical and surgical specialties, from physical and respiratory therapy to psychology and social work to nutritional support and palliative care. Our team focuses on prevention as well as providing expert diagnosis and individually tailored treatment for acute and chronic conditions. When appropriate, we also refer patients to the Center for Older Adult Health at BWH and its staff of geriatric medicine physicians.
The Lung Center is located at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) at the 15 Francis Street entrance. Thoracic surgery, pulmonary and critical care medicine and thoracic imaging are adjacent to one another, making accessibility and appointment scheduling seamless.