Around 1.5 million people in the United States have lupus. It is an autoimmune disease that can affect many parts of the body, including joints, skin, brain, and kidneys. It is a difficult disease to diagnose because the symptoms can be similar to those of other illnesses. Knowing more about the condition and its symptoms can make being a family caregiver to someone with lupus easier.
An Overview of Lupus
When someone has lupus, their body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues in the body. Experts believe that for some people lupus is caused by a combination of genetics and the environment. The person has genetic factors that make them more likely to get lupus. Their genetics are triggered when they encounter certain things in the environment. Some possible lupus triggers are:
- Infections: Having an infection can make lupus start or lead to a relapse.
- Sun: Being exposed to sunlight can cause lesions to appear or bring on lupus symptoms.
- Some Medications: Some kinds of blood pressure, anti-seizure, and antibiotic medications may trigger lupus in people who are susceptible. Sometimes the symptoms improve when the person stops taking the medicine.
Lupus can cause complications with several of the body’s systems. Some complications that may occur are:
- Kidney damage or kidney failure.
- Brain related complications, like headaches, dizziness, memory problems, strokes, and seizures.
- Anemia, bleeding, blood clots, or vasculitis.
- Painful breathing, bleeding in the lungs, or pneumonia.
- Pericarditis and an increased risk of heart problems.
The symptoms of lupus vary from one person to the next and be mild or severe. They may also come and go. Sometimes people with milder symptoms have flare ups. During a flare up, the symptoms of lupus are worse for a while, but later improve or go away.
Some of the symptoms your aging relative may experience are:
- Pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints.
- A facial rash that resembles a butterfly in shape.
- Skin lesions that get worse or appear when the person spends time in the sun.
- Being short of breath.
- Pain in the chest.
- Dry eyes.
- Memory loss.
Elderly care providers can help older adults with lupus to manage their symptoms. An elderly care provider can remind the older adult to take medications prescribed to treat lupus. They can also assist with lifestyle changes that can improve symptoms. For example, an elderly care provider can encourage them to rest while the provider does things around the house, like cleaning or cooking. An elderly care provider can also help the senior to protect themselves from the sun by applying sunscreen for them, finding them shady places to sit, and choosing clothing that will protect the skin.
If you or an aging loved one is considering elderly care in Falmouth, ME please contact the caring staff at CareTree Healthcare today. Call today! 207-899-0774
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