Living with lupus presents special challenges as you age, and it is critical to look after your mental and physical wellbeing as you move into your later years. It’s important to understand how lupus affects the aging process, and how the disease can change as you age.
Those with lupus often experience symptoms of cognitive impairment which can become more apparent as we age. You may have trouble remembering names or completing familiar tasks. You may find yourself unable to perform tasks you used to do without difficulty, such as balancing your checkbook.
Cognitive therapy can help you to develop coping skills that will improve your concentration and make it easier to complete tasks and remember appointments. A psychologist or speech-language pathologist can often provide cognitive therapy, but check to be sure that the person you choose has experience in this area.
Some techniques that may help if you’re experiencing confusion or memory loss include:
- Writing down information and appointments as soon as you become aware of them. Carrying a small day planner or using your phone calendar can help you stay organized.
- Try to focus on a single task rather than doing several things at once.
- Minimize distractions such as background noise.
- Use memory techniques like repeating someone’s name several times when you first meet them or associating their face with something that will remind you of their name.
There are several ways your lupus symptoms may change as you age. Maintaining good health habits, such as developing proper nutrition, getting adequate sleep, and taking medications as prescribed are critical to maintaining good mental and physical health as you age with lupus.
The good news is the degree of inflammation and auto-immunity you experience may decline as you age. Your physician may adjust your medication or dosage for this reason. However, the disease may become more severe as the symptoms of lupus collide with the physical decline associated with normal aging.
Osteoporosis is more common and can be more severe in lupus patients due to some treatments and a sedentary lifestyle. Hormone replacement therapy may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and blood clots and can increase the flare rate.
On the positive side, you are less likely to develop lupus nephritis, or lupus-related kidney disease, if you are older. And remission from lupus can happen at any age.
If you are taking or are considering taking alternative or holistic treatments for lupus symptoms, be sure to consult with your physician first.
By, Jess Walter, Freelance Writer