Shingles is a condition caused by the same virus as the chicken pox, the varicella-zoster virus. After having chicken pox, the virus lies dormant in the body for decades. In some people, particularly older adults, the virus reactivates and causes shingles. This occurs in about 1 out of every 3 people. It can cause only mild symptoms, like itching, or it can be quite painful and have long-lasting effects.
When your parent suffers from shingles, it can leave you feeling helpless. But, the truth is, there are many things you can do at home to help them to feel better, like the suggestions listed below.
Daily baths are an important way of keeping the shingles blisters clean and preventing infection. It can also help to keep the infection from spreading further. In addition, they can soothe itching. There are two ways to use daily baths to ease shingles symptoms:
- Take a bath or shower in cool water to soothe skin.
- Take a lukewarm bath with 1-2 cups of colloidal oatmeal added to the water. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
- After the bath, the senior should dry completely, and the towel should be washed to prevent the virus from spreading.
Getting enough sleep is important when an older adult is healthy. It’s even more important during an illness. Encourage your parent to sleep between 7 and 9 hours per night. Not getting enough sleep can increase stress, which can also affect the amount of pain the older adult feels.
Helping your parent to stay busy with activities they enjoy can help to take their mind off of the symptoms. Try bringing over some favorite movies, getting a jigsaw puzzle, or setting up a craft activity. If the senior enjoys reading, stop at the library to pick up a few books for them to read or check out some ebooks using a smartphone or other device.
Choose the Right Clothes
Your parent should avoid wearing clothing that could cause itching, like a heavy sweater. Instead, suggest that they wear light, loose fitting clothing. Clothes made of natural fibers, like cotton, are softer against the skin and may be more comfortable.
In-home care can help to take care of your aging parent during a bout of shingles. In-home care providers can assist them with taking baths, making certain they get in and out of the bath or shower safely. In-home care providers can also encourage better sleep habits by assisting your parent to stick to a regular schedule of waking and sleeping. In addition, an in-home care provider can help to keep them busy with conversation and activities to reduce stress and take their mind off of the uncomfortable symptoms.