Around 300,000 people in the United States are living with scleroderma, a condition that causes a hardening of skin and connective tissues. Scleroderma can affect the skin, internal organs, digestive tract, and blood vessels. The condition affects more women than men and can strike at any age, including during the senior years. Although scleroderma is not curable, there are many things you and your parent’s home care provider can do to help manage the symptoms at home as well as helping your parent to live well with scleroderma.
Your parent is likely to have an emotional reaction to being diagnosed with scleroderma and to the struggle of living with a chronic condition. It may be helpful to find a support group or to seek professional counseling. You and your parent’s home care provider can be extremely supportive by reassuring your parent that you are there to help. Your parent may also wish to get involved in an online support group or forum for people with scleroderma. The home care provider can also help them to continue doing normal daily activities and remain socially connected, which can help improve mood.
Physical Therapy and Exercise
Exercise can help your parent’s body to stay flexible and promotes blood flow. It can also prevent or relieve stiffness. Your senior’s doctor may refer them to a physical therapist to develop a program that is right for them. Generally, physical therapists will recommend, “range of motion exercises,” to maintain and improve mobility. Depending on your parent’s symptoms, they may also suggest other treatments such as massage, muscle strengthening exercises, hydrotherapy, and paraffin wax baths. Your parent’s home care provider can help by driving your parent to physical therapy appointments and by assisting with the exercises they must do at home.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend that people with scleroderma protect themselves from cold. They suggest that scleroderma patients should use gloves to get food out of the freezer. When going outside in the cold, they should be well-protected with warm clothing and by covering the head and face.
Since scleroderma can affect the digestive tract, preventing heartburn can help. To avoid heartburn, your parent should not eat late at night. At bedtime, the head of the bed should be elevated to prevent acid reflux. If your parent does not have an adjustable bed, they can use a foam wedge to remain elevated or several pillows. Antacids may also help, but you should consult with a doctor before your parent uses them.
Get Plenty of Rest
Finally, it’s important that your parent get plenty of rest. They should recognize their limits and prevent getting over-tired. You and your home care provider can encourage your parent to take time to relax during the day, perhaps enjoying a favorite television program, reading a book, or simply listening to some music.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering elder care in Huntington Beach, CA, please contact the caring staff at Canaan Home Care today!