Shingles is a condition that’s caused by the varicella zoster virus, which also causes chicken pox. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 million people develop shingles every year. Shingles mostly strikes people over the age of 50, and there are many myths surrounding the causes and treatments of this common illness. To clear up any confusion, here’s what seniors and their caregivers should know about shingles.
If your aging loved one has ever had chicken pox, he or she is at risk for shingles because it’s caused by the same virus. It’s important to note this virus falls within the category of herpes viruses, which is why you may also hear shingles referred to as the herpes zoster virus. However, it’s not the same as having cold sores or genital herpes, which are caused by different strains of viruses.
After a person recovers from chicken pox, the virus lies dormant in his or her nervous system. When the virus reactivates, the person will develop the symptoms of shingles. While a definite reason for the reactivation of the virus has yet to be determined, it’s believed a weakened immune system may play a role.
Aging adults with severe cases of shingles may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks while they’re recovering. If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of elderly home care. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services.
The hallmark symptom of shingles is the development of a red, painful rash that usually appears on only one side of the body or face. Tingling and burning sensations may be felt within the area of the rash, and some people develop fluid-filled blisters that open and crust over in a manner similar to chicken pox. The rash may itch and cause extreme discomfort until it clears. In addition to the rash, chills, fever, headache, nausea, and fatigue may also be present. Individuals who have shingles can also experience more serious complications, such as neurological problems, skin infections, and even vision loss if the eyes are affected.
If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Palm Desert home care agency you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services.
Prevention & Treatment
There are two vaccinations that can prevent shingles, depending on your loved one’s immunity status. Those who have never had chickenpox can benefit from the varicella vaccine, and there’s a shingles vaccine available for those over 50 who have been infected with chickenpox in the past. Although the vaccine doesn’t guarantee an individual won’t develop shingles, the condition is typically much less severe in aging adults who receive the vaccination.
When shingles blisters are present, it’s important for seniors to understand the virus is contagious, and contact with a person who isn’t immune could cause that individual to develop chicken pox. Antiviral medications are often prescribed for people who develop shingles. These medications can be especially effective at reducing the severity of the symptoms if they’re taken soon after the rash initially appears. Physicians also typically prescribe pain medications and topical creams such as calamine lotion to ease itching.
If your loved one develops shingles, consider hiring a professional caregiver to provide assistance with everyday tasks. Palm Desert respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed. Trust Home Care Assistance to provide high-quality compassionate, professional care for your loved one. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (760) 345-0001.