While we are busy looking out for the big threats, the little ones can sneak up on us. Sometimes we become so preoccupied with preparing for large problems that we forget about the small, unexpected ones. And those little problems can be more dangerous.
As anyone involved with elder care can tell you, caregivers must be on constant watch. It is important to be vigilant of such threats as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, and dementia. That is only a partial list. It doesn’t even account for more external problems for seniors that include depression, poverty, senior abuse, loneliness, and isolation.
Knowledge and awareness has helped society tackle many of these problems and care for the elderly. However, there are still dangers to seniors that have not received as much attention and can be just as deadly and devastating. One of the biggest threats to seniors is infectious diseases.
Taking many different shapes, infectious diseases can be blamed for one third of all deaths of those over the age of 65. Think about that number: 1 of 3 of everyone over the age of 65 you know will die because of an infectious disease.
A few factors make seniors more prone to infectious diseases. Our immune system naturally weakens as we age. Colds and flus that we would have shaken off when we were younger can leave us bedridden for days in our senior years. Seniors spend more time in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and medical centres where they are exposed to more people carrying bacteria and infections. Infections can be misdiagnosed or completely missed with seniors.
The symptoms of a gastrointestinal infection could be mistaken for food poisoning or simply an upset stomach. Seniors suffering from dementia may not be able to properly communicate their symptoms, which can lead to the infection going unchecked and untreated.
Seniors are at risk for many different kinds of infections, but here are the most common:
The flu is common and attacks the respiratory system of all ages. Symptoms generally include coughing, runny nose, headache, high fever, and sore throat. Some strains are more dangerous than others, but all are deadlier to the very young and the very old. Seniors are at risk of contracting the infection because of weakened lungs or as a complication of other conditions. Seniors do not always develop the same flu symptoms that others do, which means it can be missed. The best way for a senior to avoid the flu is by getting flu shots and avoiding people who are sick.
Like everything else, our digestive system changes as we age. Strong stomachs become weak. What may be taken as an upset stomach or bad reaction to food may be a serious infection. Some antibiotics can cause a gastrointestinal infection called C. difficile. The best way to avoid these infections is not taking unnecessary antibiotics and practicing good hygiene.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
UTIs are more common amongst elderly patients than most realize. More susceptible to UTIs because of age-related changes in the body, seniors often contract UTIs from catheters. Symptoms can include pain while urinating and constant need to use the washroom. Most UTIs are easily treated, but can become deadly if not detected.
The skin weakens and grows less resistant to infections as we age. Ulcers, shingles, MRSA, and foot infections are common in seniors, especially those who are not as mobile or bedridden. Once again, the best defense is vigilance, good hygiene, and proper foot care.
These are only a small number of potential infectious diseases that a senior can contract. The full list is much longer. Taking care of an elderly loved one is tough. It requires patience, time, vigilance, and a strong medical knowledge.
Sometimes, a reliable and trustworthy elder care home health worker can make the difference. iCare Home Health Services will provide a qualified and professional premier home caregivers to come to your loved one’s home and give them the care they need and deserve. Whether it is a live-in caregiver, a part-time nurse, or just someone to help around the house, you can trust iCare Home Health, the best provider of premier homecare services in the Greater Toronto Area, to care for your loved one as you would. Contact us today!