Roughly half of all shingles cases in the United States affect adults 60 and older, according to the National Institute on Aging. If your senior parent is currently living with this type of viral infection, he or she is likely experiencing pain, rashes, and general discomfort. Here’s what you can do to help.
Encourage Your Parent to Use Medications as Directed
There’s no cure for shingles, but your parent will likely need to take various medications to manage outbreaks. Make sure your loved one is using antiviral drugs, local anesthetics, or other over-the-counter or prescription drugs as directed by his or her physician. Pay particular attention to:
• Dosage instructions
• Application guidelines for topical medications
• Possible interactions with medications being taken for other reasons
Acknowledge Your Parent’s Discomfort
Shingles outbreaks typically last for 2–6 weeks, and the resulting rash can be extremely uncomfortable and painful, especially if it spreads. Instead of trying to avoid discussing your parent’s obvious discomfort in an attempt to help him or her feel better, let your loved one know you realize he or she is in pain. Also, help your parent address the discomfort by encouraging him or her to voice his or her feelings. Express empathy and offer support.
A compassionate caregiver can provide your loved one with emotional support as well as assistance with the basic tasks of everyday living. Many seniors prefer aging in place over moving to assisted living facilities. If your senior loved one needs assistance to remain safe and comfortable while living at home, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading in-home care agency. Our dedicated in-home caregivers can assist with meal prep, bathing and grooming, exercise, medication reminders, and many other important tasks.
Scratching an area of skin affected by shingles can cause the virus to spread to other parts of the body. It can also create open sores that could become infected. Remind your parent to use calamine lotion on itchy areas to discourage scratching. Colloidal oatmeal and starch baths can also be helpful for this purpose. Cornstarch or baking soda placed directly on outbreak areas can also help blisters or sores dry out and heal faster.
Continue to Provide Regular Care
You could be susceptible to developing shingles if you’ve never had chickenpox or the vaccine for chickenpox. However, shingles rashes aren’t contagious, which means it’s generally safe to provide the type of daily care your parent needs even if he or she has shingles. If you have concerns, talk to your own doctor.
Watch for How Rashes Are Spreading
It’s common for shingles rashes to be located around the torso or along nerve pathways in the chest and abdominal area. However, shingles can also spread to the face. If this happens to your parent, watch for how the rash spreads. If it gets close to the eyes, vision problems could be experienced. If this is what you’re noticing, reach out to your parent’s doctor for advice on how to minimize the risk of shingles affecting your loved one’s vision.
Look Out for Serious Symptoms or Issues
It’s also important to know what shingles-related issues should prompt you to contact your parent’s doctor. Troublesome symptoms to look out for include:
• High fevers
• Complaints of recurring headaches
• Rashes spreading and becoming more severe
• Increased fatigue affecting quality of life
A home caregiver can monitor your loved one for complications of existing illnesses and symptoms of new conditions. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior home care. Harrisburg families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.
Offer Extra Assistance around the Home
Your parent may find it uncomfortable to do some of the things he or she normally does on a regular basis when also living with an uncomfortable shingles outbreak or lingering nerve-based pain related to shingles. If this is the case with your parent, offer some extra help with household tasks he or she may feel uncomfortable doing when in pain, such as cleaning, running errands, and cooking.
If your loved one develops shingles, consider hiring a professional caregiver to provide assistance with everyday tasks. Whether you need respite from your caregiving duties or your aging loved one needs live-in care, Harrisburg, PA, Home Care Assistance can meet your family’s care needs. Our dedicated caregivers are available around the clock to provide transportation to doctor’s appointments, ensure seniors take their prescribed medications, and help with a variety of tasks in and outside the home. If your loved one needs assistance with the challenges of aging, reach out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate Care Managers today at (717) 540-4663.