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A Caregiver’s Guide to Lyme Disease

By Nikhil Mehta, 9:00 am on

Lyme disease is a tick-transmitted bacterial infection that first presents as a rash at the bite’s location, followed by flu-like symptoms including chills, fever, headaches, joint pain and muscle aches. Studies show that Lyme disease progresses in senior citizens the same way it progresses in the general population. Here is how Palm Desert home care providers can identify and understand this unusual disease.

An erythema-migrans, or expanding rash, is the first symptom of Lyme disease in 80 to 90 percent of cases and it appears one to two weeks after infection on average. The rash may be a solid red expanding blotch or have a bulls eye-like appearance with a central red spot surrounded by a clear area ringed by an expanding red rash. Flu-like symptoms typically occur at the same time the rash appears.

As the disease advances, individuals experience arthritis and nerve problems, especially in the knees. Symptoms of late-stage Lyme disease include dizziness, confusion and short-term memory loss. Severe symptoms may occur weeks, months or years after the initial infection.

Antibiotics almost always cure Lyme disease, however, the disease’s progression rate and the individual’s response to treatment varies from person to person. Some individuals experience recurring symptoms and may require additional antibiotic treatments. If left untreated, Lyme disease may cause permanent damage to the heart, nervous system and joints, which may be debilitating for senior citizens.

Lyme disease may be difficult to diagnose in senior citizens because many of the disease’s symptoms are associated with the normal aging process. Individuals with new or worsening rheumatic complaints should be thoroughly evaluated by a physician to determine if they have active Lyme disease, especially if the individual lives in an endemic area. Lyme disease has been reported in almost all areas of the United States, but most commonly occurs in the Mid-Atlantic States, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Northern California.

Should your loved one contract Lyme disease, turn to Home Care Assistance of Palm Desert for help. In addition to helping seniors manage Lyme disease, we also provide Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and post-stroke care in Palm Desert to help our clients overcome the challenges associated with illness and recovery. Additionally, we assist seniors with daily tasks around the house including housekeeping, prescription pick-ups, and meal preparation. Call (760) 345-0001 to speak with an experienced Care Manager and schedule a complimentary consultation today.