Immunize Canada estimates one out of every three Canadians will likely get shingles at some point. What’s more, a 2016 British Columbia study found the rate of shingles cases was on the rise, which is in line with similar studies suggesting the same thing. A reactivation of the chickenpox virus, shingles can be especially painful and risky for older adults. If you’re caring for a senior loved one with shingles, here are five tips to keep in mind.
1. Apply Lotion to Discourage Itching
Caladryl lotion is often recommended to help those with shingles minimize itching. Shingles isn’t infectious as long as your loved one isn’t in the blister phase, so it’s okay to apply lotion to areas that may be difficult to reach, such as certain parts of the torso extending to the back. Regularly applying over-the-counter lotion discourages scratching, which can result in skin infections or additional irritation. Topical patches and creams with numbing agents may also reduce itching. Tea tree oil is a natural alternative to consider.
2. Prepare Cool Baths
For times when your loved one needs relief from the irritating effects of shingles, prepare a cold bath instead of a warm one. The decrease in skin temperature can provide welcome relief from skin irritation in areas affected by shingles. Prevent cross-contamination after bathing by separately washing your loved one’s clothing and towels. Bed linens should also be washed in hot water separately for the same reason. Cool, moist compresses can be used as well if shingles outbreaks are limited to certain areas.If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of homecare Winnipeg, MB, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
3. Watch Out for Shingles on the Face
Oftentimes, shingles rashes appear around either the right or left side of the torso. However, rashes can sometimes appear on the neck and the face. If this happens with your loved one, pay attention to any signs of shingles spreading to areas around the eyes. If not properly treated, rashes that get too close to the eyes may contribute to serious or permanent eye damage. Also, discourage face touching to prevent further spread on the face.
4. Steer Your Loved One Toward Foods that Boost the Immune System
A weakened immune system can worsen symptoms associated with shingles, which can be especially problematic for seniors, since aging already affects the immune system’s ability to handle various challenges, such as a reactivated virus. Help your loved one be in a better position to minimize the spread of shingles by encouraging a diet that includes immune system–boosting foods. Some of the tasty and nutritious options include: • Spinach and other leafy green vegetables• Bright-colored fruits• Whole grains, beans, and legumes• Yogurt, berries, and almondsIf your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, anin-home careagencyyou can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services.
5. Help Your Loved One Reduce Stress
Since stress can affect the immune system, some researchers believe increased stress may also worsen shingles symptoms. Excess stress may even trigger outbreaks in some older adults. Help your loved one keep stress in check with relaxing activities. Deep breathing, meditation, and other relaxation techniques may be beneficial for this purpose as well. The meditative aspects of yoga can also promote relaxation for seniors looking to handle stress and minimize shingles outbreaks. 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, Winnipeg, MB, 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. To learn more about our reliable, compassionate in-home care services, contact us at (204) 489-6000 today.