Unique women’s health issues among seniors
Women of every age require specialized healthcare to address their unique issues. Aging does not change that; in fact, in many instances, age can add to the list of challenges women face. Because a number of healthcare issues can become more common with age, it’s important to ensure that if you or your loved one is living in a nursing home, that facility has the experience, the resources and the tools to provide proper care.
There are a number of common medical issues that can plague women, from some that are merely unpleasant to those that can become genuinely serious. Here are a few to be particularly mindful of:
Urinary Tract Infections
Some older women have trouble emptying their bladder completely – mostly due to weakened bladder muscles which can cause a buildup of bacteria and ultimately, an infection. In addition to traditional symptoms, such as burning and frequent urination, older patients may also experience confusion, agitation, delirium, restlessness, and loss of appetite. If your loved one suddenly develops any of these symptoms, a urinary tract infection could be the reason.
These non-cancerous growths in the muscle of the uterus usually occur in women of child-bearing age. However, while fibroid growth tends to slow down after menopause due to diminishing estrogen levels, some post-menopausal women still report troublesome symptoms, including vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, anemia, and back pain. If you experience any of these symptoms after menopause, you should consult with a gynecologist for possible treatment options.
Mastitis is a bacterial infection of the breast most commonly associated with nursing mothers. In older women, however, milk ducts near the nipple can become inflamed and possibly infected if they become clogged with dead skin cells. These symptoms warrant a conversation with your physician to rule out a more serious condition, such as breast cancer. Look for tenderness or swelling, a thickening or lump, and/or pain or burning in the breast.
Depression can be debilitating at any age. Though it is a common mood disorder, it is NOT a normal part of aging. The most common symptoms for older individuals with depression include tiredness, insomnia, hopelessness, isolation and loneliness, and the loss of appetite and concentration.
Older women can easily develop a yeast infection while taking antibiotics for another condition, such as for the treatment of a urinary tract infection. The symptoms are the same in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women and can include redness, itching, swelling, vaginal discharge, and general discomfort in the vaginal area.
Osteoporosis, a thinning and weakness in the bones, can strike anyone but is found most often in elderly women. Estrogen loss is one of the leading causes, and it can put women at greater risk for falls and broken bones. Osteoporosis is often characterized by back pain and stooped posture caused by fractured or collapsed vertebra.
Anemia is the lack of red blood cells needed to carry and distribute oxygen to tissues and organs. In older women, this condition is usually caused by chronic disease or iron deficiency and causes symptoms including fatigue, weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, and feeling cold. An iron supplement, as well as dietary changes that include foods high in iron, may be recommended for women with anemia.
Helping an elderly family member or loved one navigate senior women’s health issues may seem overwhelming at times, especially if they are managing more than one condition. However, most conditions can be managed with lifestyle adjustments and the help of your healthcare provider. If your parent or loved one has reached a point where living alone is no longer possible, it’s time to evaluate and select a facility that can provide the best possible care available.
Nursing Care Centers managed by American Health Corporation – including three locations in Alabama – are well prepared to help manage the unique healthcare issues of older women and are proud to offer the highest quality skilled nursing healthcare and programs designed to allow residents to maintain the skills and abilities needed to live as independently as possible.
Contact the American Health Corporation nursing home in your area today for more information or to schedule a guided tour:
Oak Trace (Bessemer, AL) 205-428-9383
Colonial Haven (Greensboro, AL) 334-624-3054
Perry County Nursing Home (Marion, AL) 334-683-9696