Shingles and Your Aging Parent
June 6, 2017Shingles is an often debilitating disease that occurs frequently in seniors. In fact, it affects one out of three people who are over the age of 59. It is characterized by an itchy rash that develops on one side of the body or face. The rash appears as blisters, similar to those found in chickenpox, that eventually scab over. It may take a month before the rash clears up and has potentially long-lasting effects.What is Shingles? Elderly Care in Los Gatos CA: Shingles Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once this virus is in the body, it never leaves. When stress or other factors lower one’s immune system, this virus can be reactivated resulting in shingles.SymptomsIn addition to the rash, shingles produces severe pain or tingling. One out of six people over 60 will suffer from the severe pain associated with shingles. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia and occurs after the rash clears up. It can last from weeks to years. As with chickenpox, in most cases, a person only experiences this disease one time in their life. However, cases with individuals experiencing the effects of shingles two or more times do exist. Additional complications include vision or hearing problems as a result of a rash that develops on a person’s face. The burning pain can also lead to sleep deprivation and depression. A study reported in WebMD suggests a link to an increased susceptibility to heart attacks and strokes in patients with shingles.VaccineA shingles vaccine was introduced in 2006. According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it reduces the chance of developing this disease by 51 to 67 percent. It is given in one dose and highly recommended for people 60 years of age and older. People who should not get this vaccine include people with a weakened immune system from diseases or cancer therapy.ContagiousThe herpes zoster virus can spread to another person who has direct contact with fluid from the rash blisters. Those with active blisters need to keep them covered, avoid touching them and wash their hands frequently to prevent contamination. Those with an active rash are also asked to avoid pregnant women, premature babies and people with weakened immune systems.Elderly Care ProviderThe pain associated with this disease can be debilitating. If your loved one is having difficulty performing the everyday tasks of living, consider obtaining the services of an elderly care provider. These professionals have worked with countless seniors facing this disease and understand what they are going through. They can prepare immune-boosting meals filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, do the grocery shopping, and help with bathing, dressing and light housekeeping. They also provide transportation and all-important companionship.