What is Anemia?
Anemia occurs when the number of red cells in the blood or the amount of hemoglobin in those cells is lower than it should be. It can happen because of a loss of blood, insufficient or faulty production of red blood cells, or the destruction of the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen to all the tissues in the body, making it an essential component of good health. A number of conditions can cause anemia in seniors, such as battling a chronic disease, being deficient in iron or vitamin B12, and uncontrolled bleeding. Your Senior Care Provider can help you o explore
Symptoms of Anemia
Many of the symptoms of anemia are similar to health symptoms seniors commonly deal with as they get older. Anemia can be making your elderly parent feel excessively tired. If it seems like your parent has been more tired than normal lately, you might want to schedule an appointment for a simple blood test to see if anemia is the culprit. Your senior care provider might be a good resource to bring your parent into the lab for a quick and easy blood draw. Another common symptom of anemia is dizziness.
Ask your parent if she struggles with dizziness when standing or getting out of bed. If she is requiring assistance to maintain her balance when standing (by leaning on you or her senior care provider), she might be feeling lightheaded due to anemia. Other common symptoms include weakness, irritability, pale skin, and shortness of breath.
Causes of Anemia
Anemia can either be acute or chronic. Acute cases come on suddenly and chronic cases can last a lifetime and require constant monitoring. Both can be treated fairly easily with medication and sometimes dietary changes. The most often causes of chronic anemia are iron deficiency and chronic diseases. Chronic diseases such as ulcers, kidney and liver disease, cancer, and hypothyroidism are the most commons diseases that lead to anemia in the elderly. If your parent is living with any of these chronic conditions, she might be more susceptible to developing anemia.
Certain medications may also cause your parent to become anemic. Since many seniors are on multiple medications, those medications may interact in such a way to deplete the hemoglobin your parent has in her blood. Cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy also have this effect as those treatments can reduce the amount of bone marrow your parent has, where red blood cells are created.
Treatment of Anemia
If anemia is caused by a chronic condition, your parent’s doctor will work to get that condition under control. Often times once that happens, your parent’s body goes back to creating enough hemoglobin. While waiting for that to happen, your parent’s doctor may prescribe a supplement or recommend eating foods that are rich in nutrients your parent needs to increase her iron levels. Some great sources of iron are leafy greens such as spinach and kale, red meat, and beans. Work with your parent’s nutritionist to find what they recommend and then have your senior care provider help your parent stock when she visits the grocery store.
The key to dealing with anemia is to work with your parent’s physician to find the root cause, and then work with your parent’s healthcare team and senior care provider’s to treat both the cause and the symptoms.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Senior 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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