Muscular dystrophy occurs in elderly individuals as they loose muscle mass and become weak.
Often there are mutations that block protein from forming in a healthy muscle causing dystrophy to happen. There are multiple kinds of muscular dystrophy. While it is common for this disease to begin in childhood, there are other types that appear later in life.
When you have muscular dystrophy you can eventually be unable to walk. Elderly individuals may even have difficulty breathing or swallowing. While there is no cure, there are treatments to help decrease and manage the symptoms.
Muscular dystrophy can have effects on the brain, which can lead to abnormalities that effect sleeping habits, cause daytime sleepiness, and affect social wellbeing in elderly individuals. This is seen mainly in strains of muscular dystrophy that affect elderly individuals and while personality is not always affected, it can sometimes play a factor in changes of mood, etc.
There are a few different types of muscular dystrophy.
One of these is called Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This form affects about half the individuals that have muscular dystrophy. While it can occur in females, it typically occurs in males. This disease does not always occur in individuals with a family history, this is because it can be prevalent suddenly in individuals and appear as an abnormality. Signs of Duchenne muscular dystrophy include; frequent falls, difficulty getting up from a lying or sitting position, trouble running and jumping, waddling while you walk, walking on your toes, large calf muscles, pain, and stiffness.
Another type of muscular dystrophy is called Becker muscular dystrophy. Many of the symptoms of Duchenne muscular dystrophy are similar to those with Becker muscular dystrophy, but they are often slighter and they progress more slowly. Additionally, Duchenne muscular dystrophy occurs in individuals at a young age, where with Becker muscular dystrophy it does not become prevalent till the individual is a young adult. Both these diseases can last with an individual until they are older and elderly.
The next type of muscular dystrophy is called myotonic muscular dystrophy. This is more commonly known as Steinert’s disease and it occurs when your muscles are unable to relax. When a muscular contracts and is unable to relax it is known as myotonic muscular dystrophy and it is quite common in adults. Typically, we witness this in elderly individuals face and neck muscles as some of the first signs and symptoms.
Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD) occurs when an individual has weakness with the muscles in their face and shoulders. It is typically noticeable in an individuals shoulder blades and it may seem as though the individual’s shoulders look like wings when they raise their arms. While this typically begins in younger children it can occur as late as in an individuals 30s or 40s.
Congenital muscular dystrophy begins when an individual is just born or before the age of two. This typically is slow to progress and does not cause complete disability but it can occasional occur more rapidly and severely impair those affected by it.
Finally limb-girdle muscular dystrophy affects the hip and shoulder muscles in an individual. This form of muscular dystrophy may have difficulty lifting their feet and may be unsteady in their balance. This type of muscular dystrophy also begins in early childhood or when an individual is a teenager.
Elderly individuals are encouraged to consult with their doctor or a physical therapist to manage signs and symptoms of muscular dystrophy. One helpful suggestion to alleviate pain associated with muscle dystrophy is to use a breathing booster to help monitor one’s airway. This can help with issues relating to breathing or swallowing. Pain in the muscles can also be managed using heat, over the counter medication, warm baths, massages, or a heating pad.
Pain occurring in the eyes of elderly individuals can be managed with the use of removing cataracts. These can be removed surgically and may need the use of pain medicine. It is important to look out for any signs of gastrointestinal pain as well associated with muscle dystrophy. This can be managed by paying close attention to what the individual is eating, whether or not and how often they are using the bathroom, and managing pain associated with those acts.
We at Alvita Home Care in New York City try our hardest to keep our elderly clients active, and when muscular dystrophy happens, we try to help in other ways.