Has your aging relative recently been diagnosed with lupus? If you are like most Americans, you probably don’t know much about this serious disease. However, as your loved one’s family caregiver, you must get up to speed as soon as possible so that you can provide them with the help they need to live with lupus.
May is Lupus Awareness Month, which means that there are lots of organizations and medical experts that are dedicated to raising awareness and educating people of all ages about lupus. If you need more information about lupus and especially how it affects the elderly, there’s no better time to start learning.
What is Lupus and Who is at Risk?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own tissues and organs. These attacks cause inflammation, swelling, and pain. Scientists aren’t sure what causes lupus and they haven’t yet discovered a cure for it. It is usually diagnosed in people in their 30s and 40s, but nearly 20 percent of all lupus cases show up in those over age 60. This is known as late-onset or elderly-onset lupus. Women are also more likely to develop lupus than men.
What are the Symptoms of Lupus?
In elderly adults, lupus is primarily characterized by pain and swelling in the joints, face rash, fever, fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath and sensitive fingers and toes. These symptoms can flare up or fade depending on common triggers such as exposure to sunlight, high stress, certain medications, and a poor diet. Medical studies show that elderly adults are often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed for lupus because the symptoms are similar to other age-related diseases.
Treatment of Lupus in Seniors
There is no cure for lupus, but doctors can work with elderly adults to minimize the symptoms and reduce their impact in an elderly person’s life. Doctors will usually prescribe a combination of medicines that include corticosteroids, anti-inflammatories and more. Seniors can also follow a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet, moderate exercise, and low stress. Family caregivers and elder care providers can help in ways that benefit the elderly adult, by taking care of chores like laundry, meal preparation, housekeeping and more off their list of things to do.
Why is Lupus So Serious for the Elderly?
Without treatment, lupus can lead to a number of serious health conditions. Lupus can lead to kidney disease, heart disease, lung disease and much more. Lupus can also cause other chronic conditions to worsen, such as osteoporosis or the risk of infection. It’s never too late for family caregivers and elder care providers to keep their eyes open for symptoms of lupus so that seniors can get help right away and minimize the negative health effects.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Senior Care in Brea, CA, contact the caring staff at No Place Like Home Homecare today at 951-382-5266.