Elder Care in Palmer AK

Do You Know the Symptoms of Shingles in Seniors?

If your aging parent had chicken pox in their youth (as most people have), then they are at risk for a related virus called shingles.

If your aging parent had chicken pox in their youth (as most people have), then they are at risk for a related virus called shingles. Shingles is a strain of herpes virus, called herpes zoster, and is caused when the dormant chicken pox virus inside the body is reactivated. Unlike the original chicken pox virus, though, shingles can recur after remaining inactive inside a person’s body until their immune system is compromised in some way, usually by another illness.

Men and women over the age of sixty are more prone to shingles than their younger counterparts. According to NIHSeniorHealth.gov, “Fifty percent of all Americans will have had shingles by the time they are 80.” This disease is not really preventable, but in most cases, luckily, it is not fatal. It presents itself in a painful rash that stays on the body for up to a month, but a rash is not the only symptom of shingles.

If you suspect that your loved one might have shingles, you or an elder care provider should examine them for or ask them about the following symptoms:

  • Rash – Although not the only sign of shingles, a rash is definitely the sign you will notice. If one has shingles, they will experience a severe, blistering rash localized to one side of their body. This rash can even appear on the face, interfering with eye sight or hearing. This can be very serious, and calls for immediate medical attention.
  • Chicken Pox – In some people, shingles manifests itself in a more subtle way. In these cases, the sufferer will have spots or bumps that itch just like chicken pox. It may look like the childhood malady, but in this case, it is actually the sneaky shingles virus in disguise.
  • Pain – As one would expect by looking at the rash caused by it, shingles is painful. It can cause neurological problems, meaning that it can damage and aggravate the nerves under the surface of the skin. In some cases, even after the rash has cleared, the senior will still feel pain in the areas that were affected by it. This is more commonly reported in patients who are older than sixty, and can last from a few weeks to several years. If your loved one has had shingles before and is suddenly experiencing pain again, it could be related to the previous outbreak, and should be checked by a medical professional.
The shingles virus is by no means a comfortable one, but it is, thankfully, not a death sentence. A doctor can prescribe ointments and medications that can be applied by you or your elder care aide and can help to soothe the pain and itching, burning sensations experienced by the shingles sufferer.
If you see any of these signs and symptoms in your aging loved one, don’t hesitate to schedule a doctor’s appointment. It is true that the rash normally goes away on its own after a few weeks, but this time can be excruciating for the person experiencing it if they don’t have any medication or salves to help with the pain.
If you or an aging family member are considering elder care in Palmer, AK, please contact the caring staff at TLC Home Care today. (907) 336-CARE

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