Hearing that a loved one has an issue with their red blood cell count might be frightening, especially if the loved one doesn’t have any additional information. With so many health issues facing seniors, it’s hard to keep track of their diagnosis and how to handle each one. That’s why having home care support is essential to keep things organized and ensure seniors have the best care.
What Is Anemia?
Anemia is when the red blood cell count is lower than usual. It is common in older adults, with at least 10% of seniors over the age of 65 having the diagnosis. Anemia is more than just a low blood cell, however. It is associated with a wide variety of other health conditions and may result in situations that can turn life-threatening in the blink of an eye if not monitored. It’s important to understand what anemia is and how to treat it.
Home care professionals can help seniors and loved ones understand why care is needed following a diagnosis of anemia. Sometimes, the treatment may be as simple as adding a daily supplement. In others, the root cause of the anemia is what needs to be addressed first. Talking with medical professionals can help seniors and their loved ones know what steps should be taken for continued and successful care.
The Importance of Red Blood Cells
Red blood cells are vital to the human body because they transport oxygen to all tissues and organs. They are loaded with hemoglobin, a protein that binds to oxygen and transports it from the lungs to various body regions. Red blood cells also help the body remove carbon dioxide, created as a waste product during cellular metabolism. They carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs, where it is breathed.
Symptoms of Anemia
Common signs of anemia that home care assistants can monitor include the following:
- Increased fatigue in seniors that is not attributed to other medical issues or medication
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Pale or clammy skin
- Lower than normal blood pressure
Anemia is not one size fits all. There are some instances, such as when a person has mild anemia when symptoms might not be noticeable or nonexistent. In these situations, the hemoglobin level is assessed to determine how far below average it is and how quickly it drops.
Treatment for Anemia in Seniors
There are three common types of anemia. Medical professionals should assess which type seniors have before discussing treatment. The three types are listed below, as well as treatment options.
- Iron deficient anemia: this requires supplementation of iron, which may be difficult for some seniors with GI issues
- B12 deficient anemia: This is most common in senior patients and requires B12 supplements or a change in diet. Increasing the intake of foods such as fish, beans, and whole grains is suggested.
- Folic Acid deficient anemia: Adding a folate supplement or foods enriched with folate might be suggested
Once medical professionals determine the type of anemia seniors have, home care aids can work with seniors and loved ones to institute changes to their diet, routines, or medication to maintain their health. Home care aids can also assist with healthy meal planning, cooking, and increasing physical activity for seniors who can benefit from those changes.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring Home Care in Lake Forest, IL, call the caring staff at LifeCare Home Health & In-Home Services. Call (888) 606-4199 LifeCare serves all of the Chicago Metro Area.
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