Medical Alerts for Seniors with Anemia

Medical Alerts for Seniors with Anemia

time icon 6 min read update icon Sept. 28, 2019


As we age, we may no longer feel as robust as we once did. As we head into what should be the best years of our lives, certain parts of our bodies may begin to tire, which is entirely natural. But did you know that blood can also grow weary? Nearly 20 percent of those over 85 years of age have the signs and symptoms of anemia, characterized by of low oxygen levels in the blood

Anemia Overview

The tiring of the blood will present under the umbrella term anemia. Anemia is simply the collection of symptoms and risk factors that mean our red blood cells, or those that deliver oxygen from our lungs to our vital organs, are not bountiful enough in number or have been unable to keep up with the body’s demand for nutrients.

Anemia impacts nearly 10 percent of the entire U.S. population over age 65, and grows to 20 percent by the time one reaches age 85. Of note, almost seven percent of the entire U.S. population will present with some type of anemia due to either a chronic disease or an iron deficiency.

That said, it is imperative that the older adult find out the underlying cause for their anemia, since undiagnosed and untreated anemia can lead to long-term health consequences such as dementia, fatigue and falls.

Anemia Impairment

Anemia is a collection of risk factors and symptoms that can cause a number of issues. When our red blood cells are unable to deliver enough oxygen to our vital organs, we are at increased risk of dizziness, jaundice, heart palpitations, enlarged lymph nodes and feeling cold, among other symptoms.

These standalone issues may not seem like much, but when coupled together, they could lead to a loss of confidence and a subsequent dip in one’s quality of life. Not knowing when the next dizzy spell or irregular heart episode may occur could also mean the older adult is at risk for a fall or loss of consciousness.

Anemia could also be a leading indicator that there is a larger issue afoot, such as an iron deficiency, chronic inflammation or a bone marrow disorder. Additionally, if one is battling cancer, then having a low red blood cell count could mean that the older adult is no longer responding to chemotherapy treatment or the like.

Those who present with one or more of the risk factors that fall under the blanket term anemia may experience the following impairments:

  • Decreased physical performance
  • Frailty
  • Inability to thrive
  • Signs of dementia or forgetfulness
  • Dizziness
  • An increase likelihood of falls
  • Balance issues
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Chills or feeling cold
Medical Alert Benefits

Medical alert devices and phone apps are a strong contender in the fight to aid those trying to improve their red blood cell count and decrease the negative effects of anemia.

To wit, those with signs and symptoms of anemia are at an increased risk of taking a fall. If they were to injure themselves, then a fall detection device could put them in touch with a medical response team that could get them the care they need quickly.

Additionally, as anemia is oftentimes associated with a far graver disorder like cancer, having an in-home monitor or a pendant could also be a consideration, as it could alert family or friends that their loved one is not responding to medication or having an adverse reaction to a new regimen.

Anemia symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged or swollen tongue
  • Racing heart
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Pale skin
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling cold or experiencing low body temperature
  • Limbs feeling cold or numb
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Frailty
Safety Without Medical Alerts

Anemia can be a leading indicator of worsening health or a critical lack of nutrients needed to generate and sustain red blood cells. If you choose to forego medical alerts, there is still a lot you can do to keep yourself healthy and safe.

  • Undergo testing:  There are a plethora of tests to help alert you and your primary care provider of iron deficiencies and the like, including undergoing a comprehensive workup to determine your complete blood count, serum iron levels, ferritin level, vitamin B-12 level and folate level.
  • Vitamin regimens:  While you may not need medication, a daily multivitamin might be just enough to boost your iron levels and get you back to feeling better.
Anemia Precautions
  • Do not panic:  Anemia is simply an indicator that your body is not getting enough oxygen-rich blood. This is often completely reversible through a better diet rich in iron. That said, simply eating fish, yogurt, meat and eggs could boost your levels and leave you feeling stronger.
  • Alert your care team:  If you have had a medical trauma or recently undergone surgery, then you may have a small internal bleed that needs correction. A follow-up can help you feel better both physically and mentally, so do not skip a seemingly minor appointment after surgery, or a trip to the emergency room if it is necessary.
  • Talk to your doctor:  Chronic anemia could lead to a different conversation with your doctor. Certain alternative therapies, and even a blood transfusion, may help get you feeling more stable.
Anemia Medical Alerts Conclusion

Medical alert devices, personal fall-detection services and mobile apps are a good add-on option for the older adult with anemia. As anemia and low oxygen levels in the blood become increasingly common in seniors, the risk of hospitalization, falls, immobility and comorbidity grows significantly more likely, as well. That said, having the peace of mind of a fall detection system might help the senior remain mobile. Wearing a pendant or using a mobile app is easy and carries less of a stigma, which results in a virtuous cycle of not only feeling better, but also making other lifestyle improvements to boost quality of life.

Kate Papenberg - Senior Advisor

Kate is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.