Family Caregivers Need to Know More About SclerodermaDuring Scleroderma Awareness Month, various health organizations do their best to educate more people about this autoimmune disease that can strike at any age. Scleroderma affects at least 300,000 Americans each year, and yet not much is known about the chronic condition. Family caregivers and elderly adults certainly need to learn more about scleroderma, so they can recognize the symptoms and get medical attention as soon as possible.

Here are 10 facts about scleroderma that family caregivers need to know:

1. Symptoms of scleroderma include hard patches on the skin, digestive issues, stiffness and pain in the joints and numb fingers and toes.

2. Medical experts are not sure what causes scleroderma and to date there is no known cure.

3. Middle-aged women are more likely to develop scleroderma but there are growing numbers of late-onset scleroderma throughout the country.

4. The tissue hardening around the organs caused by scleroderma can cause them to strain and reduces their functionality.

5. Scleroderma is not contagious nor is it fatal, but it can create poor health in elderly people and exacerbate other chronic conditions.

6. The symptoms of scleroderma resemble other kinds of autoimmune conditions so it’s not uncommon for it to be misdiagnosed and therefore mistreated.

7. Treatment for scleroderma include pain relief medicine and drugs for the chronic heartburn and digestive issues.

8. Physical therapy can be helpful for many seniors with scleroderma to keep the joints and limbs flexible and reduce the pain.

9. Some doctors will prescribe surgery to remove the scarring and hardened tissue around vital organs to boost their functionality.

10. Scleroderma can severely affect an elderly person’s ability to do things on their own, such as basic tasks like bathing, getting dressed, grooming, preparing meals, housekeeping and more.

Family caregivers with elderly relatives that have developed scleroderma should seek out a doctor with experience in treating this disease. While the chronic condition has plenty of physical symptoms, family caregivers should also remember that there can be an emotional toll on their loved one as well. As they find their abilities diminish, many aging adults can get depressed, sad and frustrated at their failing health. Hiring an elder care provider to alleviate some of the stress and allow them to live comfortably and safely at home can help seniors feel more independent, even though they do need the assistance.

The goal of Scleroderma Awareness Month is to provide information for family caregivers, elder care providers and aging adults about the condition, whether someone has been diagnosed or they are on the lookout for symptoms. Having information can help people feel less intimidated by the disease and to explore the options for finding ways to cope with the diagnosis.



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