Elderly Care Awareness: Scleroderma
One thing that you can expect while you are on your elderly care journey with your aging loved ones is encountering health concerns, issues, and terms that you are not familiar with or that you have not heard before. By learning everything that you can about these issues you can be better prepared to give your aging loved ones the care that they need to treat or manage any that they may encounter during their later years.
One such term is scleroderma. This term refers to a group of diseases that affects the connective tissues of the body. These are the tissues that support the internal organs as well as the skin. It can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms that require special care to manage and treat. Some things that you need to know about this condition include:
- There is no known cause for scleroderma and it is not contagious in any way. Doctors also do not believe that it is hereditary
- There are two types of scleroderma, systemic and localized
- Systemic scleroderma effects the entire body, including the major organs, tissue, blood vessels, and tissues
- Localized scleroderma affects only the skin tissues and makes no impact on the organs. This type often goes away on its own, leaving no lasting damage
- This disease is more common in women than it is in men
- People of African American descent are more likely to develop the systemic forms of the disease, while people of European descent are more likely to develop the localized forms of the disease
- The disease is diagnosed using medical history, lab tests, physical exams, and skin biopsies
- The most common symptoms of the disease are thickness or hardness in the skin, redness, swelling, or stiffness
A common secondary condition that is usually present in those who have scleroderma is Raynaud’s phenomenon. This causes the feet, hands, and fingers to change color if the person gets too cold or becomes anxious. There are ways to help with this effect, including dressing warmly enough to prevent the extremities from getting too cold, quitting smoking, and using relaxation techniques to ease anxiety
There are several ways that you and your parents’ elderly health care services provider can help to ease the symptoms of scleroderma, including:
- Reduce pain and stiffness in the joints by exercising regularly, stretching, modifying daily tasks to reduce stress on the joints, and losing weight to ease stress
- Ease stiff skin by using sunscreen, avoiding hot showers or baths, using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, avoiding the use of strong soaps and chemicals on the skin, and regularly applying moisturizer to keep the skin supple
- Ease dental problems potentially caused by tight facial skin by practicing good dental hygiene, using exercises to keep the joints and muscles limber, and using rinses and other products that ease dry mouth and protect the tissues
- Relieve gastrointestinal problems caused by systemic scleroderma such as heartburn and difficulty swallowing by eating smaller meals, sitting or standing upright for at least an hour after eating, and choosing primary soft foods.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care services in Dresher, PA, contact the caring professionals at Reliant At Home Care today (610) 674-6860.