Scleroderma Awareness Month

Posted: 6/13/2018 6:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
June is Scleroderma Awareness Month and there’s no better time for elderly Americans and their family caregivers to learn more about this chronic condition that affects people of all ages, including elderly adults. While the condition is not very common, it does affect more than 300,000 Americans. Because it can be painful and also contribute to a number of health issues, it’s wise for family caregivers to learn more about scleroderma during Scleroderma Awareness Month.
What is Scleroderma?

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that triggers the body to attack itself. Typically a person’s immune system causes the skin to tighten and the joints to inflame. Many internal tissues can scar as well, causing a range of health problems. Medical experts don’t know what causes scleroderma and to date there is no cure. While most cases occur in women during middle age, there are seniors who suffer with late-onset scleroderma.
There are two kinds of scleroderma, classified as systemic and localized. With systemic scleroderma, the internal organs, skin and tissues become hardened. The organs have to work harder to function, causing stress. For localized scleroderma, the skin toughens but the organs are left unaffected.
What are the Symptoms of Scleroderma?
Because scleroderma can affect different parts of the body, the symptoms can vary from person to person. Typically, the most common symptom is toughened, shiny patches of skin found on the arms, legs and torso. Fingers and toes frequently become numb and very sensitive to heat and cold. Family caregivers may also notice that their elderly loved one moves stiffly and complains of pain in the joints.
As the disease progresses, seniors may experience heartburn, digestive issues and organ dysfunction. Without treatment, the disease can progress to affect the organs and cause real problems. Scleroderma is similar to several other autoimmune diseases, so it’s important that doctors diagnose it properly to being treatment quickly.
How Do Doctors Treat Scleroderma?
While the disease can’t be cured, there are a few ways to help with pain management and keep the organs functioning properly. Medication is the first step and it helps control the symptoms of pain, indigestion and circulation. Many seniors with scleroderma benefit from physical therapy to keep their limbs mobile. In serious cases, someone with scleroderma may need surgery to remove scarring from internal organs to boost their efficiency.
How Can In-Home Care Providers Help Seniors With Scleroderma?
Due to the chronic nature of scleroderma, many seniors find that it grows more difficult to accomplish daily tasks related to home care, self-care and mobility. Family caregivers can hire an elder care provider to help their loved one stay safe and comfortable in their home. It’s hard for many seniors to cope with the changes that the disease brings, but a good home care provider can alleviate a lot of the stressful duties and help them keep as much independence as possible.
During Scleroderma Awareness Month, family caregivers can be on the lookout for the telltale symptoms of late-onset scleroderma in their loved ones so they can get help and treatment right away.

More information about senior care.