Home Health Care: 5 Benefits For The Patient With Scleroderma
Living with scleroderma can be challenging, especially when living on your own. You may not realize it, but home care is available for those who suffer from this condition, which is a rare disease that involves the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues, says the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes, scleroderma can also harm structures beyond the skin, from blood vessels to internal organs to the digestive tract. Scleroderma occurs most often in women more than men, between the ages of 30 and 50. There is currently no cure for scleroderma; however, there are many treatments available that can help with symptoms and improve quality of life.
One way to improve the quality of life is to hire a home health care team to help you with daily activities. That’s because extreme fatigue is one of the hallmarks of scleroderma, affecting how you perform daily activities due to physiological and psychological effects associated with the disease, according to Sclero.org. Your doctor can work with you to come up with a plan of attack when it comes to managing symptoms. These remedies can range from prescribed antidepressants to low-impact aerobic exercise.
There are many symptoms associated with scleroderma, so everyone’s treatments will vary. Scleroderma affects the immune system, prompting the body to make too much of the protein collagen so your skin gets thick and tight, says WebMD. Scars can even form on the lungs and kidneys, causing blood vessels to thicken so they don’t work properly. Symptoms include:
- Hardened or thickened skin, usually on the hands and face, that looks shiny and smooth.
- Cold fingers or toes that can turn red, white, or blue.
- Ulcers or sores on the tips of fingers.
- Swelling, also known as edema.
- Small red spots on the face and chest
- Puffy, painful fingers and toes
- Swollen joints
- Muscle weakness
- Dry eyes and mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Kidney failure
How Home Health Care Can Help
When the disease is no longer manageable all on your own, you need help. Family and friends can only do so much. You need qualified, trained medical help in the form of nurses, as well as volunteers or aides that can help with daily tasks. Your skilled team can ease the transition from a hospital stay to independently managing care on your own, or vice versa. Home health provides services for those who need help managing the effects of chronic diseases, which is exactly what scleroderma is. Here are five benefits of home health care for scleroderma patients:
1. Improve quality of life: The goal of any home health care program is to help patients boost their well-being physically and mentally, as well as help them become — or remain — as independent as possible. The end goal is to improve quality of life.
2. Skilled service: Home health care can provide those skilled services under the direction of your doctor. Some tasks can be as easy as low-impact exercise and fine motor skills exercises to improve flexibility. Other tasks required from your home health care nurse are more serious and involve administration of drugs and treatments.
One example of this is kidney failure, which is a serious side effect of the disease. Patients can experience kidney failure unless their condition is treated correctly every single day. Treatment typically involves anti-hypertensive drugs as part of ACE inhibitors, which can control blood pressure and stabilize kidney function. Dialysis may be required for those with severe kidney failure.
3. Constant monitoring: Those who suffer from scleroderma should have their blood pressure and kidney function monitored on a regular basis, which is where the home health care nurse comes in. No need to visit the doctor or out-patient center every day. Your home health nurse can visit you instead.
4. At-home treatments: There are many other treatments for specific symptoms of scleroderma that your nurse, dietitian or doctor can help you with:
- Apply moisturizers or corticosteroid creams to provide relief from stretched, hardened skin.
- Provide nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen
- Provide prescribed corticosteroid pills to reduce inflammation, such as prednisone.
- Administer vasodilators for Raynaud’s phenomenon, which can turn hands and feet white or even blue. This medication will relax and open the blood vessels.
- Prescribe medication to control heartburn and ease intestinal problems.
- Administer drugs to suppress the immune system, such as mycophenolate, methotrexate, and cyclophosphamide.
5. Help with details: There are other things nurses and aides can do to help the scleroderma patient. Since patients often feel cold or even pain in their extremities, it’s helpful to provide extra blankets and check for drafts throughout the home, says Hospital News. A dietitian can make sure the patient is eating a normal, well-balanced diet with no extra herbs, vitamins, or minerals. They will also ensure the patient is not engaging in any diet cleanses, which can accelerate the disease.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Pathways Home Health and Hospice has a wonderful team of caring home health care professionals who can help guide you or your loved one through life at home with scleroderma. Contact us today at 888-755-7855 to learn more about home care and the scleroderma patient.