Symptoms of Pneumonia in the Elderly

Updated March 23, 2017

Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that is common in elderly people, especially those in nursing or retirement homes. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), the symptoms of pneumonia in the elderly are usually different than the symptoms seen in younger people. In the elderly, symptoms of pneumonia may take longer to develop and may not be very noticeable.


A persistent cough is one of the most common symptoms of pneumonia. In the elderly, even a minor cough can be a sign of pneumonia.


Elderly people with pneumonia may feel very weak, and appear more fatigued than normal. The UMMC recommends that any feelings of weakness lasting longer than one day be evaluated by a doctor.


Pneumonia may also cause confusion and disorientation in elderly patients, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The confusion may be long-lasting and may seem out of character for the patient.

Decreased Appetite

Elderly individuals with pneumonia may also lose their appetite and appear uninterested in eating, according to a study reviewed by the Southern Medical Journal.

Slow Progression in Symptoms

Elderly individuals with pneumonia may develop symptoms very slowly and the symptoms may be very subtle. Any of the symptoms discussed here that appear in an elderly person should be taken very seriously.

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