The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receives about 30,000 reports of cases of Lyme disease each year. There are likely many more that are not reported. The disease is caused by bacteria that is transmitted by certain species of ticks, called deer ticks. It can affect people of any age, including older adults. It can be difficult to diagnose because many people don’t recognize the symptoms in the early stages of the disease.
About Lyme Disease
The bacteria that causes Lyme disease is called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of the deer tick, which you may also hear called the black-footed tick. They are a very small species of tick that are about the size of a poppy seed when they are young.
Not all deer tick bites result in Lyme disease. To get it, a person must be bitten by a tick that is carrying the bacteria. Then, that bacteria need to get into the bloodstream. Usually, the tick needs to stay attached to the person for between 36 and 48 hours for them to contract the disease. If you notice a tick on your aging relative, removing it immediately could prevent them from getting the disease. However, if the tick is already swollen, it has probably been attached long enough to transmit Lyme disease, so you should watch for symptoms.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
When you remove a tick, it may leave a red bump behind that goes away in a few days. This is normal and not a sign of Lyme disease. The early signs of the disease include:
If the disease isn’t caught and treated, later symptoms may include:
If your aging relative has been diagnosed with Lyme disease, a senior care provider can assist them through treatment and recovery. Because the disease causes fatigue and pain, it may be difficult for the older adult to keep up with housework. A senior care provider can take care of the cleaning and can cook meals for them. Senior care providers can also remind them to take medications used to treat the disease and its symptoms. And, a senior care provider can drive them to the doctor’s office for follow-up treatment.