Posted June 27, 2017

Scleroderma patients benefit from assisted living facilities with mobility support and continuity of care, as well as monitoring organ function. 

Around 300,000 people in the US struggle with scleroderma. Females with scleroderma outnumber men around four-to-one. All ages can be afflicted, though this condition raises additional health concerns and complications for seniors. Diagnosing can be tricky, but most individuals with this health condition are diagnosed by age 55. The symptoms and signs of scleroderma require medical intervention, and assisted living is a viable and practical option.

What is scleroderma? 

  • Scleroderma is an autoimmune rheumatic disease.
  • Scleroderma manifests as a hardening of the skin, caused by an over-production of collagen.
  • Scleroderma can impact organ function over time, resulting in heart, kidney, or breathing issues.
  • Scleroderma can affect the thyroid gland, slowing down your metabolism.
  • Scleroderma is not contagious, infectious, or cancerous.

While there is no cure for scleroderma, there are interventions that can detect issues and predict complications. These approaches can also contribute to making the individual more comfortable. These interventions might include a regimen of medications, physical and occupational therapy, and surgical procedures, according to your provider’s recommendations.

Five benefits for the Scleroderma Patient in assisted living facilities are: 

Mobility assistance and support 

Those living with scleroderma may notice some difficulty with mobility and movement, as this can become limited as the skin becomes swollen or tight. Joints and muscles may feel stiff, making it more challenging to walk and complete basic tasks. Scleroderma patients may also contract Raynaud’s disease, which can cause permanent damage and possible infection to the fingers and toes. This may require surgical amputation in severe cases.  assisted living staff can help patients recover after surgery and provide the physical therapy needed to return to their normal routine. Adaptive devices may help individuals with mobility, such as walkers or canes, but also with simple strategies such as larger-handled utensils which can make a world of difference when eating.

Monitor breathing and blood-pressure

Seniors with scleroderma may develop pulmonary hypertension, which causes the blood vessels in the lungs to shrink and narrow. This manifests in shortness of breath, which at times, may require oxygen. When this persists, it can cause permanent lung damage and breathing issues, that could require a lung transplant in some isolated instances. Staff at assisted living residences can provide respiration as needed, as well as provide some different types of respiratory therapy that could increase and improve oxygenation and the ability to breath.
Patients with scleroderma that are experiencing edema, or swelling and fluid build-up, may also experience breathing difficulty that can be improved with interventions that target the swelling. This might include prescription medications, elevated legs during sleeping, and a low-salt diet.

Assess organ function

Scleroderma can wreak havoc with the organs, including your kidneys and heart. Symptoms of kidney failure include headache, vision trouble, edema, shortness of breath, and inability to urinate. Congestive heart failure is a risk of the scarring that scleroderma can cause around the heart. Symptoms of inflammation around the heart include chest pain and difficulty breathing due to fluid build-up.  assisted living facilities have on-site medical personnel to keep residents comfortable while assessing their organ function regularly.

Support esophageal dysfunction

Scleroderma can cause difficulty swallowing, in addition to breathing, which brings about the need for personal support with activities of daily living, or ADLs. Staff at assisted-living facilities can help with eating, drinking, and prevent the risk of aspiration, which could lead to pneumonia especially in older populations. Heartburn is another common side-effect of the esophageal issues that scleroderma may cause; assisted-living staff will make residents more comfortable when experience these symptoms, and may be able to plan a diet that is non-acidic and that doesn’t cause heartburn to flare-up.

Provide a continuum of care

Scleroderma is a long-term, often-progressive illness that can get worse over time. The facilities and staff at Senior Living Experts provides a holistic solution to scleroderma symptoms that can improve quality of life. Symptoms may manifest and exacerbate which speaks to the need of a continuum of care, as varied situations crop-up with scleroderma, such as dental problems. As scleroderma causes facial skin to tighten, this can decrease the size of your mouth, which makes taking care of your teeth more challenging. Dry-mouth is another symptom, which increases the propensity for periodontal disease and decay. It is important to be vigilant when it comes to predicting and treating scleroderma symptoms.
Senior Living Experts has a lot to offer seniors with scleroderma, including these five daily functions. Ongoing assessment is key when treating scleroderma patients, since this is a long-term, often progressive medical condition. Contact Us for more information related to senior residential care facilities for support and treatment of advanced scleroderma, for the support and medical intervention needed to take back your life.


Sources:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/scleroderma/home/ovc-20206014
https://www.gstatic.com/healthricherkp/pdf/scleroderma.pdf
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/176357.php
http://www.scleroderma.org/site/PageNavigator/patients_whatis.html#.WTVlYWjyvIV
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/331197-overview

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