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5 Rare Diseases That Affect Older Adults

By Jonathan Wells, 9:00 am on

Degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are fairly common among the aging demographic and, thus, many seniors and family caregivers in Douglas County are aware of the associated symptoms and the most effective methods for mitigating their risks. However, there are also several rarer diseases elderly people are prone to developing, including the 5 listed below.

1. Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a degenerative brain disease that is almost exclusive to seniors. Microscopic inclusions called Lewy bodies gradually break down the cell walls of the nerves. Over time, this breakdown results in dementia-like behaviors and symptoms. Though it’s not currently possible to prevent LBD, early diagnosis and care can prolong a senior’s life and greatly enhance his or her overall quality of life.

2. Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis can be an inherited illness, but it is most common among aging adults with chronic inflammation and those on dialysis. This illness affects the liver, heart, and kidneys. During the initial stage of amyloidosis, seniors often experience extreme joint pain, skin conditions, and weight fluctuations. Though this first stage of amyloidosis cannot be treated, it is possible to prevent the onset of the second and far more severe stage, which often causes serious issues like organ failure. Caused by buildups of proteins that are the remnants of antibodies, seniors can prevent amyloidosis by maintaining a heart-healthy diet rich in inflammation-fighting foods.

3. Paget’s Disease

Second only to osteoporosis, Paget’s disease is one of the most prevalent bone diseases in the modern world. With Paget’s, a senior’s bones deteriorate and then reform at an excessively rapid rate. The new bone development is often brittle, which increases the likelihood of breaking or fracturing bones. Although there are currently no known prevention strategies for this illness, early detection and treatment can help slow its progression and alleviate its symptoms.

4. Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis

Commonly referred to as DISH, diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis presents symptoms similar to those of arthritis. DISH can limit range of motion and flexibility, create postural disorders, and cause chronic pain along the spine and at the hips. This condition is most common among aging adults who have been diagnosed with other skeletal disorders. One of the most effective ways to prevent DISH is to have arthritis and osteoporosis diagnosed and treated early on. A diet that includes a diverse array of heart-healthy fats like nuts, coconut oil, and avocados, along with routine exercise that includes a strength training component can help seniors build up and preserve their bone health.

5. Multiple System Atrophy

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) presents many of the same symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including a progressive loss of fine motor control, tremors, and postural issues. MSA is currently neither curable nor preventable. However, nearly all treatments for this illness involve concerted efforts to regulate a senior’s blood pressure. Seniors can follow low-sodium, heart-healthy diets to reduce the risks of MSA. If diagnosed early, the condition can be managed.

Though many of these rare diseases may be difficult to prevent, your aging loved one can take steps to reduce the risk of more common ailments. At Home Care Assistance, we offer a program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that can boost their overall health. For more information on the home care Douglas County, CO, families rely on, call 720-287-1685 to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.