Imagine a disease that affects the body’s connective tissues, with the immune system treating those cells as foreign invaders. That’s essentially what happens when a person develops scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder that often appears in middle-aged and elderly adults, particularly women.
June is Scleroderma Awareness Month, where educators, medical experts, and advocates try to educate and promote awareness of this frequently misdiagnosed disease.
Family caregivers and home care providers should learn all they can about scleroderma and its symptoms, so they can recognize it in elderly adults.
As with most chronic conditions, an early diagnosis can make a big difference in the treatment and impact scleroderma has on an elderly person’s life.
Here are 15 important facts that family caregivers, home care providers, and elderly adults should know about scleroderma:
1. It’s estimated that more than 300,000 Americans suffer from scleroderma, with many other cases going unrecognized and unreported.
2. Scleroderma is not contagious nor is it infectious.
3. Experts don’t know what causes scleroderma and there is currently no known cure for it.
4. One of the most common symptoms is thickening of the skin with hard, painful patches appearing.
5. Other symptoms of scleroderma include inflamed joints, gastrointestinal distress, numbness in fingers and toes, and arthritis.
6. Scleroderma also hardens the connective tissues around vital organs like the heart, kidneys, lungs, and stomach, putting stress on them and causing related health problems.
7. Scleroderma symptoms are similar to other chronic conditions related to age, so it is often misdiagnosed in the elderly and therefore untreated.
8. Family caregivers and home care providers should get seniors to a doctor as soon as they notice symptoms for specialized treatment that minimizes harmful effects to the body.
9. There are several different types of scleroderma, ranging from mild symptoms to very serious symptoms.
10. Treatment for scleroderma includes medicines that can help control inflammation, pain, acid reflux and circulation issues.
11. In extreme cases, seniors may need surgery to remove scar tissue around organs so they function better.
12. Scleroderma can make existing conditions worse, like inflamed lungs, kidney disease, heart conditions and digestive issues.
13. Many seniors lose mobility and flexibility with scleroderma, which requires them to hire home care providers to help with tasks like housekeeping, meal prep, dressing, and grooming.
14. People who suffer from chronic diseases like scleroderma have a higher risk of developing depression, so family caregivers and home care providers should also be on the lookout for any mental health struggles.
15. Seniors can join any number of scleroderma support groups throughout the country for those living with the disease and its effects.
There’s no better time to learn about scleroderma than during Scleroderma Awareness Month. When family caregivers and elderly adults know what to be on the lookout for, they have a much better chance of catching it early and implementing effective treatment options to minimize the harmful effects.
If you or an aging loved one is considering hiring Home Care in La Jolla, CA, or the surrounding area, please contact the caring staff at Love 2 Live Care. Call Today 1-619-291-4663