As a family caregiver, it may seem difficult keeping up with all the important tasks that fall to those who care for an aging parent. Unless one of your duties is helping your parent bathe and dress, you may well overlook the need to keep an eye out for fungal infections. As one ages, these types of infections become more prominent and can lead to itchy, miserable yeast infections as well as more serious bacterial infections.
Why are the Elderly more at Risk?
There are several reasons why your parent is more at risk for these types of infections than their younger counterparts. As one ages, so too does their immune system. This system that fights off invading bacteria, viruses and fungi, can lose some of its efficiency or produce inappropriate responses and go after non-invaders—the body’s own tissues. When this occurs, an autoimmune disease is in the making.
Other changes occurring in their body include a diminished capacity to regulate their internal temperature, cells that take longer to reproduce, a slow-down in the digestion process, and increasing toxins. Diseases that are associated with this type of infection include diabetes, and liver and kidney disorders. Taking multiple medications including immunosuppressive drugs as well as cancer therapies also leads to an increased opportunity for fungal infections to take hold. Caught in the beginning stages, they are often easily eradicated. But if your parent goes for any length of time without it being detected, it can eventually enter the bloodstream at which point it is potentially lethal.
Signs to Look For.
Candida is a yeast found in the human body and is the most common cause of infections. Under normal conditions, it is usually harmless. When out of control, it has a tendency to flourish in bedsores, folds of skin, in the underarm and groin as well as under fingernails. On the skin it generally appears as multiple red patches with scalloped edges. If other fungi are involved, they may produce light brown, smooth to slightly scaly patches in the same areas.
The mouth is particularly vulnerable to Candida infections, and, if unnoticed, can infiltrate the lungs. If your parent wears dentures, they are even more susceptible. It often appears as whitish patches in the mouth with or without redness, burning, and itching.
How to Help.
In addition to keeping a close eye on your loved one’s skin, mouth, and nails, you can help them prevent these types of infections by ensuring they are living a healthy lifestyle. This includes a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in prepared and packaged foods. Make exercise a part of their daily schedule and if they smoke, help they quit. If your parent wears dentures, make sure that they take them out at night and clean, soak, and air-dry them every day.
If they take multiple medications, be sure to make a list and take it to their pharmacist to see if any drug interactions may be causing the problem. Making sure their skin is exposed to air throughout the day, is thoroughly dried after showers, and remains dry throughout the day is one of the best ways to ensure a fungal infection does not take hold.
Senior Care Provider.
If your loved one needs assistance with everyday activities, consider the services of a senior care provider. In addition to daily tasks, they can prepare healthy meals, accompany your parent on daily walks, and provide the companionship that promotes self-care and happiness.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring senior care in Scotch Plains, NJ, call the caring staff at Helping Hands Home Care today at 908-418-4299. Providing Home Care Services in all of Northern and Central NJ, including Clark, Westfield, Cranford, Scotch Plains, Rahway, Linden, Summit, Edison, Elizabeth, Mountainside and the surrounding areas.
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