May is Hepatitis Awareness Month. If you’re the caregiver to an older adult from the Baby Boomer generation, knowing about the disease may be especially important since people of that generation are at higher risk for one kind of hepatitis, hepatitis C.
Hepatitis is a condition in which the liver becomes inflamed, decreasing its ability to function properly. This is a serious problem because the liver is responsible for functions like processing nutrients, filtering waste products from the blood, and fighting infections. Some of the things that can cause hepatitis are:
• Heavy alcohol use.
• Certain medications.
• Some medical conditions.
Hepatitis can also be caused by a virus. The most common kinds of viral hepatitis are:
• Hepatitis A: This kind of hepatitis is usually mild and once a person has had it, they are usually immune to it, so they cannot get it again. Most people recover completely, but in some cases, it can get bad enough to be life-threatening.
• Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is transmitted through bodily fluids. It can be severe and chronic. There may also be complications like cirrhosis and a particular kind of liver cancer.
• Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C can also lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. It can be cured with treatment.
Sometimes hepatitis doesn’t cause any symptoms until it progresses, or it may only cause mild symptoms. During its early stages, hepatitis may cause symptoms like:
• Lack of appetite.
• Low-grade fever.
• Aching muscles and joints.
• Pain in the abdomen.
• Weight loss.
When hepatitis progresses and causes liver failure, the older adult may experience symptoms such as:
• Urine that is dark in color.
• Skin that itches.
• Feces that are light in color.
• Skin that appears yellow in color, as well as a yellow tongue and yellow whites of the eyes.
Why Are Baby Boomers at Risk?
Baby Boomers (people born between 1945 and 1965) are at a higher risk for hepatitis C because it was at its highest transmission rate between the 1960s and 1980s. This is in part because the protocol for handling and cleaning medical equipment was different then. In addition, blood products were not screened as carefully as they are now. Because of this, seniors should be tested for hepatitis C so that they can receive treatment.
If your aging relative has hepatitis or needs to be tested for hepatitis, an elderly care provider can drive them to the doctor’s office for follow-up treatment or to be tested. Elderly care providers can also remind the older adult when it is time to take their medication. Elderly care providers can also allow seniors to rest when they aren’t feeling well by taking care of household tasks and preparing meals for them.
If you are considering Elderly Care in Clay, NY, for an aging loved one, please contact the caring staff at Serving Seniors, Inc. We specialize in offering services to the Senior Community in Syracuse and the surrounding area (Clay, Cicero, Liverpool, Baldwinsville, Central Square, and others). Call us today! 315-382-4300
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