Did You Know?
Lyme disease can mirror Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia as well as chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis and more. Diagnosing it can be tough — Lyme disease is hard to detect and it can present up to 100 different symptoms! Since it manifests like so many other common ailments in seniors, medical professionals often assume they know the diagnosis. Seniors often complain of joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue and dizziness, making doctors feel that the symptoms may not be that out of the ordinary and miss a diagnosis.
Bad News for Virginia
Lyme disease is on the rise. It is now the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States. In 2015, it was the sixth most common Nationally Notifiable disease. However, this disease does not occur nationwide and is concentrated heavily in the Northeast and upper Midwest. The black-legged ticks that carry Lyme disease are now found in areas where they’d never been seen 20 years ago.
The CDC estimates that about 30,000 U.S. residents are infected with Lyme disease each year. When you factor in under-reporting because of misdiagnosis and lack of education, the actual count could be as high as 300,000 cases. As ticks continue to migrate to more and more areas, we can expect cases to continue to rise.
Working with the Aging Population
Because I work with the aging population, I am very tuned in to the issues that affect them — and Lyme disease is a big one. Just why is this disease even more concerning for seniors are the complications it can lead to.
When Lyme disease goes undiagnosed and untreated, the disease and symptoms progress. They get worse and worse over time, taking a severe toll on seniors’ bodies. Recovering from late-diagnosed Lyme disease is difficult for younger people, so imagine how tough it can be for seniors to bounce back! The immune system of older adults isn’t as strong as it once was, and a common cold can be twice as debilitating as it once was. The effects of Lyme disease can cause bodies to deteriorate, making seniors suffer from additional ailments.
It’s imperative that we speak up for our seniors and make sure our medical community considers Lyme disease before assuming an incorrect diagnosis. The sooner seniors are diagnosed, the better their chances of a full recovery.
Be sure to look for my next blog in this series on Lyme disease and seniors.
Barbara Stohlman – Owner
Oh, by the way, if you know of anyone needing assistance with liquidating an estate, decluttering, organizing, aging in place and/or help moving from or into an independent living, assisted living or memory care community, know that OHCIH can help! Your referrals are needed. Please visit www.OverwhelmedHowCanIHelp.com. And always feel free to contact us with any questions.