Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a viral infection that results in a painful rash on one side of the body or face and often lasts several weeks after first appearing. The varicella-zoster virus causes shingles; after recovering from chickenpox, it remains dormant within the nervous system until years later, it reactivates as shingles recurrence occurs. Shingles are a common condition, affecting one in three individuals during their lifetimes. Older adults are particularly at risk due to a compromised immune system and must therefore receive appropriate senior home care as soon as possible to minimize the risks of developing the condition.
Here we discuss shingles, their risks on older adults, and management strategies available for caregivers.
What Are Shingles?
Shingles are a viral infection that results in an itchy and painful rash. The reddened, blistered skin typically forms into bands or patches on one side of the body or face but may appear anywhere on it as well as fever, headaches, or light sensitivity symptoms.
The varicella-zoster virus causes shingles, the same one responsible for chickenpox. After recovering from chickenpox, its dormant state may remain dormant within your nervous system for years before reappearing to cause shingles symptoms.
Risk for Older Adults
Senior citizens are especially prone to developing shingles due to a weakened immune system. With age comes reduced immune protection against infection, thus making older adults vulnerable to developing this illness and its complications.
Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a type of nerve pain that may persist months or even years after the initial outbreak has cleared up, is one of the primary complications of shingles that often negatively impact older adults' quality of life. Furthermore, other complications associated with shingles may include vision loss, hearing issues, and skin infections from exposure.
Management Strategies for Caregivers
Caregivers in senior home care must understand and administer medications effectively for their clients to maintain health and well-being. Here are some critical strategies for caregivers.
Preventing shingles is the key to avoiding complications and is highly effective against them. Adults over 50 are strongly encouraged to receive the vaccine to stay protected. Caregivers should encourage their clients to receive the flu vaccine and ensure that all other necessary vaccinations, such as the annual flu shot, have been kept up-to-date.
Caregivers must recognize the signs and symptoms of shingles to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment of any complications that arise and to avoid complications. Caregivers must remain aware of how best to spot and monitor their clients for any changes to their health that could indicate possible shingles infection. If a caregiver suspects their client may have shingles, they should immediately consult a healthcare provider for assessment and treatment.
Coping with the symptoms of shingles can be challenging, as the condition can lead to significant discomfort and pain. Caregivers must collaborate with healthcare professionals to develop an effective plan for managing symptoms, such as providing pain medication and antiviral drugs as necessary or offering emotional support and reassurance during this challenging time.
Living with shingles can be challenging, so caregivers must provide emotional support for their clients during this trying time. This may involve offering companionship, listening to their concerns, and helping to maintain social interactions among friends and family members. Home care providers can work closely with healthcare professionals and families to ensure that their clients receive the highest possible level of care during their recovery process.
Shingles are a common condition among older adults that poses significant risks. Seniors and their families must possess a good knowledge of shingles, their management strategies, and ways they can prevent or mitigate it effectively. Vaccination, good hygiene practices, medication for pain management, and wound care can all effectively care for older adults living with this condition.
If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Scarsdale and Yonkers, NY, call Griswold Home Care
and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (914) 768-9065