Bell’s palsy is a condition that causes muscles in the face to suddenly become weak. It makes one side of the face droop so that the corner of the mouth turns down and the eye is difficult to close. It can be disconcerting as some people may mistake it for a stroke. In addition, it can make talking difficult and affects appearance. Understanding the condition can make it easier for family caregivers and older adults to deal with.
Bell’s Palsy Basics
Bell’s palsy can happen at any age. Most of the time it is temporary, but a few people have it for life. When it is temporary, the symptoms generally begin to resolve within a couple of weeks and are gone within six months. A few people have recurring cases of Bell’s palsy. These recurring cases usually run in families.
There are a few things that can put your aging relative at greater risk for developing the condition. Some of them are:
- Having diabetes.
- Having a cold, the flu, or another upper respiratory condition.
Although most cases of Bell’s palsy go away completely, more severe cases can have complications, some of them lasting. Possible complications of the condition are:
- Damage to the facial nerves that cannot be cured.
- Nerve fibers may grow back in an abnormal manner that causes some muscles to contract when the person is trying to move a different muscle. For example, when the person tries to smile, it may cause their eye to close.
- Vision loss in the eye on the affected side caused by excessive dryness because the eye will not close and by scratching of the cornea.
Causes of Bell’s Palsy
Doctor’s don’t know exactly what causes some people to get Bell’s palsy. Experts think it may have something to do with inflammation in the facial nerve. Another theory is that it is a reaction to a viral infection. Doctor’s have noticed that Bell’s palsy often occurs after certain viruses, such as:
- Chickenpox or shingles.
- Respiratory illnesses.
- Cold sores.
- Hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
Elder care can assist older adults afflicted by Bell’s palsy with the extra care they may require at home. The doctor may recommend performing facial exercises at home to strengthen the muscles and rehabilitate the nerve. An elder care provider can remind the senior to do them and help them to follow the directions for the exercises. Elder care can also help with dental care. Bell’s palsy can cause a loss of feeling in parts of the mouth, which means food can build up without the senior knowing it, causing tooth decay. Elder care providers can assist them with brushing their teeth after eating.
When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider home care provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.