Approximately a third of deaths in the elderly (>65 yrs) occur due to infectious disease. Infections like pneumonia often occur after a period of immobility or a hospital stay (e.g. a hip fracture) and mark the start of a decline in health and independence. Preventing respiratory infections would provide the elderly more years of independence, improve their quality of life, and reduce the cost of care.
Dr. Dawn Bowdish, and her collaborators Drs. Johnstone, Loeb, Nair, Surette and Bramson, are interested in preventing respiratory infections among the elderly through the use of probiotics. Probiotics are micro-organisms ("good" bacteria) that are believed to have health benefits when ingested. These researchers predict that probiotic ingestion will be an inexpensive and effective way to prevent respiratory illnesses in the elderly, and their study will investigate this claim in 300 nursing home residents, who are particularly susceptible to infection. The results could decrease respiratory illness and increase the quality of life among aging Canadians.