The definition of anemia is a deficiency in red blood cells and of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body. Seniors are at a high risk of developing anemia, and some studies show that as many as 80 % of American seniors have mild to severe anemia. If you are a family caregiver for an aging parent, you may be wondering whether they have anemia or are in danger of developing it.
Why Anemia is Dangerous
Proper oxygen levels are crucial to a healthy body, but when red blood cells are in short supply, the tissues and organs become starved for oxygen. The heart and the lungs become stressed as they work to supply even more oxygen. Organs and tissues won’t function well and can eventually shut down. In seniors, who are typically battling other types of chronic disease, anemia can create even more complications.
Recognizing Symptoms of Anemia in Seniors
When anemia is left untreated, it can mean lots of health problems. However, if it is diagnosed and treated by a doctor it is often quite manageable and the harmful effects minimized. The problem is that anemia symptoms are very similar to other conditions, and mild anemia may not present any symptoms at all.
Common symptoms include fatigue, weakness, headaches, cold hands and feet, pale skin, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and chest pains. Family caregivers, elder care providers, and others should pay close attention to the aging adults they care for to see if they may be suffering from anemia. If your elderly mom or dad displays any of these symptoms, you should get them to the doctor. A simple blood test can reveal whether they have anemia and need to be treated.
Treating and Preventing Anemia in Elderly Adults
Once seniors have been diagnosed with anemia, the doctor will outline a treatment plan. Because anemia is most often caused by a poor diet, they will recommend changes to include more iron-rich food. They may also prescribe iron supplements if needed. You, the elder care provider and other family members can play a big part in making sure your aging mom or dad gets the iron boost they need to reduce the effects of anemia.
It’s not difficult to add more iron-rich foods to an elderly person’s diet. The foods with the most iron include leafy greens, red meat, nuts, whole grains, egg yolks, seafood, and legumes. Adding these foods into meals and snacks can help your elderly parent reduce and even prevent anemia. When elder care providers, family members, and friends are aware of their dietary needs, they can also make the effort to include these natural sources of iron in your aging parent’s diet.
Anemia is common in seniors, but that doesn’t mean your mom or dad must suffer ill health. When you work with the doctor closely and build up a team of family members, elder care providers and friends for support, anemia in your elderly parent can remain a minor thing instead of a major health issue.
If you or a family member are in need of Elderly Care in Hallandale, FL, call the caring professionals at Star Multi Care today at (954) 870-4770.
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