In the past, doctors believed Huntington’s disease was rare. However, an estimated 30,000 people in the United States have the disease. Because of the progressive nature of the disease, it doesn’t just affect those who have it. It also affects the people who find themselves caring for the person as the disease gets worse. If you’re one of the many people acting as a family caregiver to someone who has Huntington’s disease, learning more about it can help you to better care for them.
An Overview of Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease is a condition that runs in families. It destroys nerve cells in the brain, affecting how the person moves and thinks. It can also cause psychiatric disorders. Although most people begin having symptoms in their 30s or 40s, it is possible for the disease to start at an earlier or later age.
Huntington’s happens because of a defective gene. Only one copy of the gene is necessary for the person to develop Huntington’s disease, so people who have a parent with the disease have a 50 percent chance of developing it.
After receiving a diagnosis, people generally live between 10 and 30 years. Eventually, they will need help with every aspect of daily life. In the late stages of the disease, the person is usually bedridden and cannot speak. They typically die from pneumonia, infections, an injury due to a fall, or complications because of swallowing problems.
Symptoms Caused by Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease causes symptoms in three broad categories:
- Movement Disorders: Both voluntary and involuntary movements may be affected. The person might involuntary jerking movements, rigid muscles, problems with gait and posture, and trouble with speech and swallowing.
- Cognitive Disorders: Some of the cognitive problems the person may have are trouble organizing, getting stuck on one idea or action, loss of impulse control, trouble finding words, and learning problems.
- Psychiatric Disorders: Depression is the most common psychiatric symptom of the disease. Other disorders that may occur are bipolar disorder, mania, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Elderly care can be a great source of assistance and support to both the person who has Huntington’s disease and their family caregivers. Elderly care providers can spend time with the person while family caregivers are at work or elsewhere. Elderly care providers can help your family member with almost anything you can. They can walk with the person to keep them from falling, help them to dress, bathe, and use the toilet, and remind them when it is time to take medications.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED-ONE ARE CONSIDERING ELDERLY CARE IN CLAYTON, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT SENIORS HELPING SENIORS TODAY. CALL (919) 761-5346.