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All About Scleroderma and Elderly Adults

June 19th, 2018

By: Amy Adaniel

June is Scleroderma Awareness Month, where family caregivers and elderly adults can gather information to educate themselves on this serious autoimmune disorder. While scleroderma is not well-known, it’s easy to overlook the impact this disease has on hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. There’s no better time to look more closely at scleroderma and raise awareness in the community.

Scleroderma Defined

Medical researchers are unsure as to the cause of scleroderma but they do know that the condition triggers the body’s immune system to attack connective tissues. This means that it looks at healthy cells and decides that they are foreign and the result is a chronic condition that hardens and scars tissue. 

Women of middle age are most at risk for developing scleroderma, but it can occur in any age. When elderly adults get it, the condition is known as late-onset scleroderma. It is not contagious, so family caregivers and home care providers don’t have to worry about contracting scleroderma as they provide care to the elderly adult.

Scleroderma Symptoms

The disease targets connective tissues, which can result in a lot of discomfort and reduced mobility for elderly adults. With scleroderma, the most common symptom is inflamed joints and skin disorders, such as large shiny patches of skin appearing. Other symptoms include digestive disorders like acid reflux, kidney problems, and numbness in the fingers and toes.

Internally, scleroderma works on the connective tissues that surround vital organs like the heart, lungs, stomach and kidneys. The scarring of the tissue puts strain on the organs, causing them to work harder and with less efficiency. If an elderly person is already struggling with kidney disease, lung issues, gastrointestinal diseases or a heart condition, scleroderma can cause serious complications. It’s important that family caregivers and home care providers take note of any symptoms of scleroderma so the aging adult can get medical help before the problems become too great.

Scleroderma Treatment

To date, there is no cure for scleroderma, however when an elderly person is in a treatment plan managed by a doctor, they can get some relief from the symptoms. Medication is key to controlling pain, swelling and acid reflux. Physical therapy can help with mobility and stiffness. In some extreme cases, surgery can help remove scar tissue from around the organs.

Elderly adults with advanced scleroderma will likely need home care services to continue to reside in their homes. The disease can greatly reduce mobility and dexterity. A home care provider can help with bathing, dressing, laundry, housekeeping, meal prep and more. Seniors can let go of a lot of stress when they have a professional home care provider to rely on.

Any family caregiver that wants to learn more about scleroderma should check out the available information about the autoimmune disorder online or at their local clinic. Throughout Scleroderma Awareness Month throughout June, current information and the latest treatment options are easy to find. Education and awareness may make the difference in early diagnosis for elderly adults.


If You Or An Aging Loved One Are Considering Hiring Senior Care in Boynton Beach, FL, Please Contact The Caring Staff At BrightStar Care Today! 561-921-0550.