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Over Fifty? Fall Is Time For Routine Vaccines

Oct 13, 2007
Fall is here and winter is just around the corner. Most of us think about getting our annual flu shots. For those over age fifty, a case of the flu can have serious consequences. If you have not yet been vaccinated against pneumonia, this too is a good idea.

Those over age fifty may also want to speak to their physician and consider being vaccinated for shingles. The Centers for Disease Control approved the vaccine in May of 2006 and recommends it for anyone over age fifty that has had chicken pox and has certain risk factors: a history of cancer, radiation, chemotherapy, steroids, prescribed immunosuppressant drugs, or excessive physical or emotional stress.

As we age,a weakened immune system may cause shingles, a painful rash that causes extreme sensitivity and pain (called PHN) that lasts even after the rash is gone. PHS can cause chronic fatigue, physical inactivity and insomnia that interferes with daily activities. It is also likely to cause depression, anxiety and difficulty with concentration.

If you have ever cared for anyone with shingles you know the feelings of frustration and helplessness. A client of mine, Tilly, came down with general aches and pains and was also concerned with recent ongoing constipation. After receiving a call at 8 pm on a Friday evening and rushing the client to the emergency room, in addition to the previous concerns, she was also diagnosed with shingles. Tilly had a past history of breast cancer in addition to macular degeneration which caused ongoing worry about her ability to continue to live at home alone. She had previously been very independent and enjoyed traveling the world with various companions.

Tilly's shingles came and went but she had continuing nerve pain which limited her ability to care for herself and her home.She no longer traveled as she was worried about participating in social gatherings. Her sleep patterns changed dramatically. She found herself awake all night and sleeping during the day. After falling in the bathroom, her family members became concerned and convinced Tilly to move to a facility where assistance was nearby in the event of another emergency.Unfortunately for Tilly, the vaccine was not available at the time this instance occurred. Keeping our vaccinations up to date at any age is important and can prevent unwanted illness.

Additional information about shingles can be found on Web MD and the Annals of Long Term Care Clinical Care and Aging.
About the Author
Pamela d. Wilson has over twenty years business experience including ten years in the healthcare field. She is an expert in providing support in the beginning of the planning process and during crises situations. She may be reached at The Care Navigtor
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