July Is International Hepatitis Awareness Month

July Is International Hepatitis Awareness Month - Southeast Michigan Home Care Blog Posts | CareOne Senior Care - front8141075

July is International Hepatitis Awareness Month

Preventative healthcare is important for seniors - many diseases are more likely to form as people age, and typically the most effective treatments are the ones that start early on in an illness' development. While many of these processes have been well known for years - auditory screenings to check for hearing lost, colonoscopies to detect colon cancer - but new research from the Centers for Disease Control highlights a health test that many seniors may not know they need: hepatitis C screening.

The risk of hepatitis C for seniors

According to the CDC report, more than 75 percent of the adults currently living with hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965 - meaning older adults are five times more likely to have the disease than any other age group.

"Seniors could be infected without even knowing it."

Researchers suggest that this could be the result of minimal testing in the 70s and 80s when the spread of the disease was at its highest. It's passed along through blood-to-blood contact. While people who were engaged in high-risk activities may already be aware of their potential exposure and go to get tested, many others may be completely unaware that they could carry the virus. Since blood and organs that were donated during this time period didn't fall under the same testing requirements they are today, it's possible that some people were infected after receiving blood transfusions.

This illness is particularly problematic because it can remain asymptomatic for years. Seniors could be infected without knowing, increasing the chances that they could inadvertently pass it on to someone else. Hepatitis C can create chronic liver problems, so treatment is imperative. Without the knowledge that they're infected, however, many seniors could succumb to the illness before they can get the care they need.

What is hepatitis C?

The hepatitis viruses attack the liver. Type C is one of the most pervasive, along with types A and B. These strains have slightly different ways of being transmitted and impact patients at different rates. Type A, for example, will set in a few months after infection.

Type C, meanwhile, can remain dormant in a person's body for decades before it begins to destroy the liver - the American Liver Foundation reported that 75 to 85 percent of people infected with hepatitis C develop the long-term, chronic version of the condition.

Though the effects of the disease may be mild in some instances, this is usually dependent on quick treatment. In more severe cases, untreated hep C can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer or liver failure. About 70 percent of people carrying the hep C virus will develop a form of liver disease.

Getting seniors tested for hepatitis

Identifying a hepatitis C infection is done through a series of blood tests to check liver enzyme levels. Doctors may opt to repeat testing after a few months to be sure of the results.

This isn't always a common screening for physicians to perform unprompted, however. A team of researchers at the University of Michigan Health System has developed an electronic alert system that can remind doctors to test patients who were born in the 1945 to 1965 window to help stop the disease from being overlooked. In the limited release of the alert system, the researchers saw an increase in the number of hepatitis screenings performed across all demographics.

While such programs may help more patients get the screening they need, widespread versions of alert systems have not been implemented yet. As a result, any senior who may be at risk for the disease should talk to their medical care team about getting screened. Even when the disease starts to scar the liver, there are usually no visible, outward side effects. Even people who currently feel healthy should ask for a hep C screening.

Treating seniors with hepatitis C

Care options for hep C have greatly advanced over the years. There are several medications that doctors can prescribe to send the disease into remission and help those infected continue to live healthy lives. Some prescriptions can even help treat cirrhosis and other impacts on the liver that were caused by the virus.

While medications will help reduce the damages of hepatitis C, patients will need to focus on some healthy living choices on their own as well. Consuming alcohol, for example, is highly discouraged for people who have hep C. Drinking can increase liver damage and make it harder for the body to fight infection.

Eating well and exercising are important for seniors' liver health. Diets rich in iron and protein are beneficial. Seniors should eat plenty of grains, fruits, and vegetables as well, and need to avoid salty, sugary and fatty foods. Poor diets can exacerbate liver problems. Patients will need to maintain a healthy weight, as excess body fat can harm the liver as well.


At CareOne Senior Care, we are proud to write on an array of topics that brings awareness to our community, friends, family, and those that we care for every day. For daily postings ranging in subjects from Alzheimer’s Care to Retirement Planning please follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Type the title here

Type the text here

How to Talk to a Senior About Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver in Plymouth MI: When you’re the primary family caregiver for an older adult, you may eventually suffer from caregiver burnout. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, tired, and frustrated by the responsibilities of being a caregiver.

Advice for Seniors Just Diagnosed with Diabetes

Home Care Services in West Bloomfield MI: A new diagnosis of diabetes can be overwhelming. There’s so much to learn about the disease itself and how to proceed. Both the senior with the disease and their family caregivers have a big job ahead of them.

3 Preconditions to Act on Fast

Caregiver in Birmingham MI: Sometimes being told your older family member has a health condition can be seen as a positive instead of a negative. For example, learning they have a precondition gives them a chance to make changes.

Is Frailty a Part of Aging?

Home Care in Novi MI: Frailty is typically defined as getting slower, losing strength, weight loss, and not having as much strength as a person did when they were younger. Most people assume that getting frail is a natural part of aging.

Living Alone with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Many people with Alzheimer's continue to live successfully on their own during the early stage of the disease. Making simple adjustments, taking safety precautions and having the support of others can make things easier.

Creating a Care Partnership

Parkinson's disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects 1 in 100 people over age 60. While the average age at onset is 60, people have been diagnosed as young as 18. Sharing in your loved one's journey with Parkinson's disease....

CareOne Senior Care Receives 2017 Best of Home Care-Provider of Choice Award

Southeast Michigan – CareOne Senior Care announced today that it has received the 2017 Best of Home Care – Provider of Choice Award from Home Care Pulse. The Provider of Choice Award is granted only to the top-ranking home care providers, based on client satisfaction scores gathered by Home Care Pulse, an independent satisfaction research firm for home care. CareOne Senior Care is now ranked among a select few

Hospital Discharge Planning: A Guide for Families and Caregivers

Being Discharged home after a hospitalization or a stay in a rehab center can be very confusing. At a time that a loved one may be adjusting to a new diagnosis or recovering from an injury, illness or surgery, transitioning home can be scary and overwhelming to both the patient and the family caregiver(s).
Page: 12345 - All