As I pondered the topic of Lyme disease and seniors, two clichés popped into my head: “knowledge is power” and “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Both certainly apply. Knowledge about Lyme disease can help with early diagnosis and successful treatment. Prevention steps can spare someone from having to endure the disease at all.
Learn About Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is contracted from the bite of an infected deer tick. If left untreated, it can progress and cause a number of debilitating symptoms. Seniors can be quite vulnerable to the disease because they may have weakened immune systems or pre-existing conditions, like arthritis, that can be greatly compounded by Lyme. It’s important to know the symptoms, for early diagnosis leads to a quicker and more complete recovery. The following symptoms may develop between three and 30 days after the tick bite:
- “Bulls-eye” rash at the bite site
- Fever and chills
- Joint pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Short-term memory problems
It’s good to make note of the date that you were bitten. If you are a caregiver, document when your loved one or client was bitten. Having this information to share with your doctor can greatly help with diagnosis. Too often doctors can dismiss Lyme symptoms as the flu or make another more serious misdiagnosis, as in the case of singer Kris Kristofferson who was told that he had dementia. If you are armed with knowledge and information, you can avoid such a disaster.
Prevent Lyme Disease
Learning to protect yourself or a loved one from ticks can ward off contracting Lyme disease.
Here are some steps you can take to keep the ticks and, therefore, the disease away:
- Avoid wooded areas with high grass or brush.
- Keep grass cut in and around your yard.
- Wear long sleeves and long pants, with socks tucked in, when in possible tick territory.
- Use bug repellent with Deet (20-30 percent) on exposed skin and clothing.
- Carefully inspect yourself for ticks after being out in a natural setting. Know how to correctly remove a tick should you find one on your body.
- Treat pets that can bring ticks inside.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year. It has become a major health threat especially in Virginia and surrounding east coast states, and is particularly severe for seniors. The CDC and the Lyme Disease Association offer a wealth of information about symptoms and prevention, as well as patient support resources.
We at Overwhelmed How Can I Help, LLC hope this information gives you the power of knowledge and the ounce of prevention you need to get you and your senior loved ones through the tick season disease-free.
If you know of anyone needing estate liquidation, decluttering, organizing or perhaps help moving from or into an independent living, assisted living or a memory care community, know that OHCIH can help with the transition. Please visit us on our website at www.OverwhelmedHowCanIHelp.com. And always feel free to contact us with any questions.
Have a wonderful summer.
Barbara Stohlman, Owner