Age, weak muscle tone, chronic illnesses, and changes in the throat and esophagus increase the rate of airway obstructions in the elderly. A 2010 study that used spirometry measures as a clinical indicator of airway obstructions in patients aged 60-93 found an obstruction rate of 22.5 percent. This suggests that many elders live with partial obstructions that compromise overall function and health. When they experience an injury or illness, it’s easy for a partial obstruction to become a life-threatening full obstruction. Here’s what you need to know.