Although lupus is a condition that is usually diagnosed before the age of 40, older adults can also develop the disease. When people get lupus later in life, doctors call it late-onset lupus. In fact, research indicates that as many as 25 percent of lupus cases are late-onset. While lupus is quite different from arthritis, experts say there may be a connection.
Lupus is a kind of autoimmune disease, which means it is a condition where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy systems. Lupus causes inflammation in various parts of the body, including:
- Blood cells.
The problem with lupus is that it can be very difficult for doctors to diagnose. Its symptoms can make it look like other medical conditions. The one distinctive symptom of lupus is a rash that is often called a “butterfly rash.” It develops across a person’s cheeks and looks like butterfly wings. However, not everyone with lupus gets the rash.
Making diagnosis even harder is the fact that lupus symptoms vary widely from person to person. The Mayo Clinic says that “no two cases of lupus are exactly alike.” Some of the symptoms an older adult with lupus may experience are:
- Joint pain, including stiffness and swelling.
- Chest pain.
- Dry eyes.
- Shortness of breath.
- Memory loss.
The Connection Between Lupus and Arthritis
Lupus is connected to arthritis because one of its major symptoms is inflammation, which can cause arthritis that doctors may call arthralgia. Although rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is also an autoimmune disease, the kind of arthritis that lupus causes is not the same as RA. There are several differences between RA and lupus-related arthritis, such as:
- Lupus does not cause erosion in the joints, but RA can.
- Arthritis caused by lupus is not as severe as RA.
- Lupus affects different joints than RA usually does. Lupus-related arthritis usually affects hands, feet, elbows, knees, and shoulders.
Regardless of the age at which a person is diagnosed with lupus, the medications used to treat it are the same. The main difference is that older adults may require a lower dosage since symptoms tend to be less severe in late-onset lupus. However, that does not mean the prognosis for older adults with lupus is better than for younger people. Other health conditions and overall health can impact how well treatment works.
If your aging relative is diagnosed with lupus, home care can help them to better manage the condition. A home care provider can remind them when it is time to take their medications. Home care providers can also allow the senior to rest when they are feeling fatigued or experiencing joint pain by taking care of household tasks like cooking and cleaning.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING HOME CARE IN NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE OF SUMMERLIN. 702-800-4616.