Shingles is a serious viral infection that occurs later in life. It’s something you can get if you had chicken pox. With shingles, the chicken pox virus that’s been dormant reactivates. It can create a rash, itching, and pain and burning sensations throughout the body. Nerve pain is often the biggest complaint with seniors who get shingles.
Shingles pain and rashes near the eyes can lead to eye damage. The virus is also more challenging for someone with a weakened immune system to fight. Months of nerve pain aren’t ideal for your elderly dad. As a result, it’s recommended that all seniors 60 or older get the shingles vaccine.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 33 percent of men and women in the U.S. will develop shingles. After the age of 85, you have a 50/50 chance of getting shingles.
The Shingles Vaccine
Zostavax used to be the only vaccine available. It lessened the chances of getting shingles, but it didn’t stop it completely. Zostavax reduced the risk of developing shingles by about half. It reduced the chances of developing severe nerve pain by 67 percent according to the CDC. The problem is that Zostavax’s effectiveness reduces by as much as 25 percent in just one year. By 10 years, the vaccine is no longer effective.
What is Shingrix?
In 2017, a new shingles vaccine gained FDA approval. Shingrix is approved for any adult over the age of 49. Shingrix offers better protection, so the CDC recommends getting it, even if you’ve already had Zostavax. Shingrix prevents 91 percent of shingles cases in people 70 or older. If your dad is in the age range of 50 to 69, it reduces the risk by 97 percent.
Shingrix is still 85 percent effective after four years. It’s too soon to tell what the effectiveness is after 10 years. Due to the extended effectiveness, doctors are urging all elderly patients to get the new shingles vaccine.
What if Your Dad Gets Shingles?
If your dad gets shingles, you need to realize that when the rash is in effect, he is contagious. He may have a fever, but pain is one of the more common complaints. Get him to his doctor to get on anti-viral medications that can help his body overcome the disease with fewer complications. If pain is an issue, he may be given pain medications or topical medications containing lidocaine may be recommended.
Bring a caregiver into your dad’s life during his recovery. He may find the pain makes it hard to keep up with daily activities. He may find it impossible to walk around and sweep his floor or stand and cook a meal. Caregivers can help your dad do those tasks. Learn more about other services caregivers offer to help your dad as he recovers from shingles. Call today.
When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider caregivers provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.