Sickle Cell Disease – What is it?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sickle cell disease affects about 100,000 people in the United States.

Despite its prevalence, this condition is frequently misunderstood. Understanding the symptoms of sickle cell disease and the treatment options can help patients and their loved ones better manage their symptoms. Here is what you need to know about SCD.


What is it?

Sickle cell disease is a genetic illness that causes oxygen-carrying red blood cells to malfunction.

SCD causes red blood cells to become hard and sticky, resembling a C-shaped farm tool known as a “sickle.” The sickle cells die early, resulting in a chronic lack of red blood cells. They also get caught and obstruct the blood flow when they travel through small blood vessels.

Pain, and other symptoms of sickle cell disease, are caused by this obstruction of blood flow.

Patients with sickle cell disease, often known as sickle cell anemia, will have a lifelong deficiency of red blood cells.


Am I at Risk?

Individuals are born with the disease, which they receive from both parents. If a person does not have sickle cell disease at birth, they cannot ‘catch’ it from someone who does. They also cannot develop the disease later in life if they do not have it at birth.

Sickle cell disease is tested for at birth in all 50 states, and parents are notified if their child has the condition. Individuals who know they have a family history of sickle cell disease may be eligible for prenatal screening.


Signs and Symptoms

When a person is born with sickle cell disease, symptoms may not appear until they are about six months old.

While the type and severity of symptoms vary from person to person, the following are the most typical signs and symptoms of sickle cell disease:

  • Chest, back, and joint pain
  • Inflamed fingers or toes
  • Yellow skin or yellow in the whites of eyes
  • Dizziness, fatigue, low oxygen in the body


Treatment Options

While there is no cure for sickle cell disease currently, there are several successful preventative strategies.

Among them are:

  • Immunizations that protect against infections
  • Proper hydration and nutrition
  • Avoidance of situations that are known to cause sickle-related pain.

It is important to keep in mind that not all therapies are suited for every sickle cell disease patient. Patients and their families should discuss the risks and advantages of each treatment option with their doctors.

The most widespread misunderstanding about sickle cell disease is that it cannot be managed effectively. While the disease cannot be cured, breakthroughs in the study of the disease and the avoidance of its complications have revolutionized the lives of people who suffer from it today and will continue to improve the prospects of future generations affected by sickle cell disease.


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Caring for Someone with PTSD

According to the National Center for PTSD, around 60% of men and 50% of women will experience at least one traumatic event in their life. In any given year, up to 8% of these, or eight million people, will acquire PTSD. Giving care to someone with PTSD has its own set of obstacles, but more understanding and awareness can help reduce the strain while providing the best care possible. Here is a closer look at PTSD, as well as five caregiver-friendly suggestions.


About PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop as a result of witnessing or experiencing a distressing or dangerous incident. Accidents, assaults, abuse, conflict, disasters, and/or witnessing any of these occurrences are all common traumas.


After experiencing war and participating in life-threatening operations, many members of the military suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD has also been linked with mild to moderate traumatic brain injury in veterans who have been exposed to blast waves from explosions.


PTSD can affect anybody, anywhere, at any age, despite its prevalence among those who have served in the military.  Substance abuse, depression, and other anxiety disorders are common among those who suffer from PTSD.


According to the Mayo Clinic, some symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Nightmares or unwelcome flashbacks of the trauma
  • Avoidance of situations that trigger memories of the trauma
  • Heightened reactions
  • Anxiety or depression


In terms of severity and length, these symptoms vary from person to person. They can also be triggered by general stress or specific reminders, such as a sound or a news story, and they can grow in intensity over time. Fear of these triggers might make it difficult to engage in daily activities and live a normal life.


Caring for a Person with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Understanding PTSD is crucial to assisting someone in managing the disorder and moving toward recovery. Caregivers can apply the following five methods of support:


  1. Listen.

While discussing feelings and experiences might be beneficial, it must be done on the patient’s own terms. So, what can you do while you wait? Be a listener who is available, and nonjudgmental.


  1. Be there.

Due to emotions of guilt, fear, and embarrassment, many PTSD patients avoid spending time with friends and family. Unfortunately, oftentimes this leads to social isolation. Your presence alone may be a priceless source of comfort for them. Encourage visits with family and friends but remember that your aging loved one’s comfort comes first, so follow their lead.


  1. Create a safe space.

Trauma victims may perceive the world around them as scary and unpredictable. Providing a secure, stable, and well-structured atmosphere might help them feel more secure.


  1. Be aware of potential triggers.

People who suffer from PTSD can be brought right back to their original traumatic experience in certain settings. Help them avoid triggers as you become aware of them, such as locations, images, scents, noises, etc.


  1. Have a plan.

Outbursts may still occur despite your best attempts. Remaining calm while assuring them that they are safe, as well as directly asking what they need and how you can assist them, can help ease the situation.


One more point to consider:

Caregivers of patients with PTSD are likely to experience secondary trauma, especially if they are overwhelmed, stressed, or isolated. What’s the takeaway? When caring for someone with PTSD, maintaining your own health and wellness is especially important. Develop your own support system and ask for help when you need it.


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UV Protection for Seniors… Why?

Some seniors can be tempted to go without sun protection during the summer months. Some think that if they were going to develop skin cancer, they would’ve by now. Unfortunately, this idea untrue. Sun protection is important for all ages.


Skin cancer develops from sun damage that happens over time, which means that older ones are more likely to develop skin cancer. This remains true even if they have not gotten a sunburn in a while. Even one sunburn as a senior could set your skin over the edge, allowing skin cancer to develop.


It was once believed that the sun damage you endure before the age of 18 is the main factor of skin cancer and sun damage. This is not the case. As we age our skin changes and our defenses against skin disease weaken. Thinner skin allows UV light to penetrate deeper, which can make you more vulnerable to skin damage. Pollution and smoking also negatively affect our body’s ability to protect us against damage from the sun. This increases our probability of getting skin cancer.


There are many simple ways to protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, many of which do not include the use of sunscreen. If possible, avoid unnecessary outdoor activity especially during midday, as this is when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. Choose clothing that will provide you with sun protection, and stay in shaded areas when outdoors.


Studies have shown that foods such as salmon, red wine, and sweet potatoes also have a protective effect on the skin. Sunscreen also provides important protection. It is best to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen. This will protect against both UVA and UVB rays, which are the cause of skin aging and contribute to the development of skin cancer. Sunscreen should always have at least an SPF of 30, and it is important to remember that sunscreen labeled “water-resistant” does not mean the product is waterproof.


Use sunscreen correctly. Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before being in the sun and then reapplied every 2 hours and immediately after swimming or intense sweating. In addition to wearing the proper sunscreen while outdoors, it is also advisable to have your skin checked regularly by a dermatologist or other health care professional to ensure your skin is healthy and cancer-free.


Summer is a time for outdoor fun but being mindful of sun damage is important. The care providers at Help Home Care Corp. hope you have a happy and safe spring and summer season.


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Advantages of In-Home Care During the Warmer Seasons

Spring and summertime are some of the best seasons to enjoy time outside. After spending most of your time indoors during winter it feels good to get out and take in some sunlight. For some seniors it can be hard to get outside, thus in-home care can be helpful. Here are a few of the benefits of in-home care during the warmer months.


Senior Health

Getting outdoors is a great thing for anyone’s health and having a professional home caregiver helps seniors to do so. Sunlight offers a great source of vitamin D that can improve brain function, help lower blood pressure, strengthen bones, and boost the immune system. Walking and moving around outside can help blood circulation and give older ones a nice cardio exercise.

While it is great to get out and enjoy the sun, it can be harmful if you are not careful. Caregivers make sure that their patients apply sunscreen when going outdoors to protect them from harmful UV rays. They also do well to make sure their patients are not out when the temperatures are too high and always have a good amount of water with them for proper hydration.


Support for Family Caregivers

During the warmer months, many people tend to travel or go out more. This can be difficult if you have a loved one to look after. You may feel like you are not able to have some downtime or vacation. With professional home care services, you will not need to worry. You can hire a caregiver to help care for your loved one. This will make it so that you can a little more flexibility and take the time off that you need.


Maintaining a Comfortable Indoor Temperature

With the temperatures rising outside, your indoor temperatures will increase as well. Some older ones can become forgetful, especially while living alone, and may not notice the lack of proper air conditioning. This can be dangerous and even fatal. Having home care services will help with making sure that the house remains at a comfortable and safe temperature.

Consider whether in-home services are a good option for your loved one.


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Be Prepared for Unexpected Emergencies

Many people around the world are fascinated with television drama series depicting severe medical emergencies, tragedies, suffering, and rescues. But experiencing sudden health complications or fighting off natural disasters approaching your own home is not a fictional problem. Unforeseeable crises can happen at any time. Sudden or severe physical symptoms can be endangering to your life, particularly for a senior who lives alone and cannot call for immediate help. Living in an at-risk area susceptible to tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, blizzards, or other weather-related events requires readiness even before an emergency happens. How can you be prepared?

Here we will discuss a few things you can do to be more prepared for unexpected emergencies.


Set Up a plan.

Choose a group of people who can offer hands-on assistance in emergencies, family members, friends, professional caregivers, relatives, neighbors, or business associates.

Work with them to arrange an emergency plan. The plan should include emergency medical treatment options, relevant emergency documents/health information, home escape routes, transportation needs, community response and evacuation plans, and family/friend communication contacts.

List safe places to shelter in the home and note where to secure safe lodging within the community and outside the area.

Select the main contact person who will check on you during an emergency. Consider means of communication (knock on the door, etc.) if telephone service is down.

Determine an action plan for those with health limitations who may need physical assistance during an emergency.


Prepare emergency supplies.

Be aware that in an emergency, you may not have time to collect essential supplies. Basic services such as water, gas, electricity, and communications may be disrupted. Grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies may be closed or overwhelmed with lengthy lines.

Organize your emergency supply kit now before any medical alert or disaster situation arises. Here is a list of some things to include:

  • First aid kit.
  • Flashlight, radio, and spare batteries.
  • Sufficient supplies of water, nonperishable food, medications, toiletries, etc. for at least three days.
  • Blankets, a change of clothing, and sturdy shoes or warm boots.
  • Credit cards and cash.
  • Copies of important documents such as financial records, birth certificates, Social Security cards, and passports in a fire-proof container.
  • Cellphone with a portable charger.

Keep the emergency supply kit in a safe accessible place and be sure to include contact information for family and friends.

Stock a vehicle supply kit that includes jumper cables and a tire repair kit. In summer, your vehicle supply kit should include sunscreen, a shade-providing hat, and extra water. A wintertime kit should include an ice scraper/snow brush, and warm clothes, gloves, and boots. Review and update supplies every six months or as the seasons change.


Identify community resources.

It is important to know how your community will alert you of an approaching disaster and stay in contact with you during and after an emergency. Find out which local television and radio stations will broadcast emergency messages via the Emergency Alert System. Know in advance which community first responders will go door to door with emergency warnings and evacuation orders.

As communities expand and offer more medical facilities, you may not realize which hospital or emergency room is nearest to you. To find a nearby hospital, you can visit ushospitalfinder.com.

Preplanning will reduce stress when a medical emergency or disaster alert arises. No one wants to be caught off guard in times of crisis. Every action you take now can determine the outcome of emergencies in the future.


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