Although the thyroid is a relatively small gland located in the front of the throat, it produces important hormones that regulate metabolism and control body temperature. If something causes the thyroid to produce too many hormones, which is a condition called hyperthyroidism, then a person can lose weight, sweat excessively, feel anxious, have a fast heart rate, and experience tremors. When people have hypothyroidism, which happens when not enough hormones are produced, they gain weight, feel cold, experience hair loss, feel sluggish, and have high cholesterol. The following are a few of the most common thyroid conditions among seniors.
This is the most common reason elderly people develop hypothyroidism, and it occurs most often among women over the age of 60. It’s an autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to mistakenly attack the thyroid gland. Common symptoms include an enlarged thyroid, fatigue, weight gain, and a slowed heart rate. Hashimoto’s disease can often be treated with immunosuppressant drugs and synthetic hormone supplements.
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Graves’ disease, the leading cause of hyperthyroidism, is the second most common thyroid disease among the elderly. This disease occurs when the thyroid responds to abnormal antibodies and starts to produce excessive amounts of hormones. In addition to causing the usual symptoms of hyperthyroidism, including high blood pressure, excessive sweating, and abnormal heart rate, Graves’ disease is also associated with puffy eyes. It can sometimes be treated with medication, but treatment occasionally requires surgery.
Goiters are extremely common among seniors with iodine deficiencies. This form of thyroid disease can include symptoms of either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, and it’s characterized by an excessively enlarged thyroid. It can typically be treated with iodine supplements.
There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional home care service. Fort Worth families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place.
This disease, also known as toxic multinodular goiter, is a type of hyperthyroidism. Plummer syndrome occurs when a senior has a preexisting goiter that develops a hyperfunctioning nodule that produces excess amounts of thyroid hormone. This causes severe symptoms such as fatigue, unexplained weight loss, fidgeting, and excessive bowel movements, but the eyes aren’t affected. Most people with Plummer syndrome are postmenopausal women over the age of 60. It’s also common among people over the age of 40 with iodine deficiencies, and in those cases, it can usually be treated with iodine supplements.
Seniors may develop malignancies in their thyroid glands. Papillary carcinoma is the most common type of thyroid cancer. Cancer can keep the thyroid from functioning properly and usually results in hypothyroidism. Treatment options for cancer in the thyroid typically include chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Fortunately, the survival rate for seniors with thyroid cancer who get it treated with surgery is almost 90 percent.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with thyroid disease, he or she can continue to live at home with help from a professional caregiver. If you’re the primary caregiver for a senior loved one in Fort Worth, respite care is available when you need time away from your important caregiving duties. At Home Care Assistance, our respite caregivers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help your loved one manage everyday tasks in the comfort of home while you have the chance to take a much-needed break. Trust Home Care Assistance to provide high-quality compassionate, professional care for your loved one. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (817) 349-7599.