Respiratory Rate: What is Normal in Older Adults?

The four vital signs are taken at routine clinic visits. In previous posts, I’ve discussed blood pressure, heart rate and temperature. Respiratory rate is the 4th classic vital sign. Respiratory rate is the number of breaths that a person takes in a minute. The normal rate of breathing varies with age. Babies and children breath faster than adults. As we age, our lung capacity starts to decrease, and the respiratory rate goes up slightly. The normal range for an older adult is a respiratory rate of 14-20 at rest.