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5 Illnesses That Are Frequently Misdiagnosed in the Elderly

By Erik Gans, 9:00 am on

It’s not uncommon for seniors to be diagnosed with an illness, only to later discover the doctor made a mistake. Westport senior care experts discuss 5 common illnesses misdiagnosed among seniors and detail steps that can be taken to prevent each illness.

1. Essential Tremors 

Essential tremors are often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease. However, essential tremors are more likely to affect seniors, unlike Parkinson’s, which is also common in people under the age of 55. These types of tremors impact both sides of the body, whereas Parkinson’s starts on one side of the body before spreading to the opposite side. To prevent essential tremors, your loved one needs to maintain low potassium levels and avoid medications that contain chlorpromazine. 

2. Fibromyalgia 

Many seniors are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at some point in their lives, but it is often mistaken as fibromyalgia. However, fibromyalgia does not affect the same joints in the hand that rheumatoid arthritis affects. Fibromyalgia does not cause as much swelling as arthritis. One way to reduce the risk of fibromyalgia is to help your loved one prevent traumatic events such as injuries to the body, infections, and illnesses. 

3. Urinary Tract Infection 

Often the signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI) are also found in illnesses like Alzheimer’s and dementia. UTIs can increase feelings of confusion and forgetfulness, especially in seniors who are already experiencing memory loss. However, family caregivers in Westport, CT, should not mistake these signs as dementia or Alzheimer’s. To prevent UTIs, make sure your loved one drinks plenty of fluids, especially water. He or she should also get plenty of rest and avoid stressful situations. 

4. Delirium

Delirium, which is often mistaken for dementia, is not caused by an illness. Instead, medications or blockage in the brain could be potential causes. Be sure your loved one is eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, and avoiding stress. Make sure your loved one’s doctor does not prescribe benzodiazepines to your loved one. 

5. Dehydration

Because dehydration causes a senior’s skin to become dry, it can be mistaken for a skin condition. When dehydration is left untreated, it can be deadly. Encourage your loved one to drink plenty of water, stay in cool temperatures, and monitor his or her blood pressure levels on a regular basis.

Managing an illness can be challenging in the senior years. If your loved one needs help around the house, transportation to medical appointments, or assistance with mobility, turn to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are available 24/7 to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life. For more information on the respite and live-in care Westport, CT, families trust, call one of our experienced Care Managers at 203-955-1915 today.