Any type of cancer can be scary, but what about a cancer that specifically targets the system designed to stop the spread of disease and infection in the first place? This type of malignancy, otherwise known as lymphoma, is growing in prevalence for those in their 60s and older, with treatment options becoming increasingly constrained once one is in their 80s. That said, an ounce of prevention in the form of testing could go a long way if you suspect your immune system is on the fritz.
Despite the pervasive nature of lymphoma, the symptoms and signs are often varied. Lymphoma most notably impacts the lymph nodes, which are those nodules in your neck, upper chest, armpits, stomach and groin that grow or bulge when you are sick. This is the body creating lymph fluid, which is full of white blood cells that help combat an illness. Enlarged lymph nodes may only be one sign of cancer, with others being bone pain, coughing, fatigue, an enlarged spleen, fever, night sweats, inability to consume alcohol, difficulty breathing, rashes or itching, stomach pain and unexplained weight loss.
There are over 60 different cancer types classified under the lymphoma umbrella. Depending on the type, they may attack an older person’s bone marrow, thymus, spleen and tonsils. That said, there are two main types of lymphoma: Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Both types indicate a mutation in the healthy blood cells meant to ward off infection. These cancers put us at greater risk of disease.
As with all types of cancer, the stage at which the malignancy is detected is critical. In the case of an older person, though, age also plays a critical factor, as those over 80 are not encouraged to undergo the rigors of a full-blown cancer battle. People over the age of 80 are instead encouraged to manage the onset of the disease through radiation therapy, bone marrow transplants, various immunotherapies and blood transfusions.
Less advanced lymphomas enable a senior under 80 years of age to take a more comprehensive approach to eradicating their lymphoma. This might include high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant procedures.
Regardless, fighting or mitigating a cancer diagnosis is not only difficult physically, but also mentally. The body may become weakened, so an older person may be at more risk of a trip or fall. Additionally, the side-effects of chemotherapy might leave the senior exhausted and unable to reach out for help in the event of an emergency.
This type of therapy alongside radiation and stem cell transplants could mean a temporary stay in palliative care with increases in immobility and impairments. The once-independent senior may now require 24/7 care or access to a nurse or similar care provider. This, too, could lead to emotional and psychological turmoil and still further impairments.
Those fighting to reduce their lymphoma symptoms may experience some or all of the following impairments:
Medical alert systems and devices are of critical importance during any fight with cancer, especially one as comprehensive as lymphoma.
Medical alert technology not only protects against falls, but can put the once-independent senior in touch with an emergency response coordinator in the event their symptoms take a toll on their well-being. Many companies now offer storage capabilities that more quickly get first responders up to speed when responding to a known cancer patient.
Additionally, in the event emergency care is not needed, having quick and ready access to a team of nurses or family and friends could boost the spirits of the senior battling cancer. Just having someone to talk to could improve their overall quality of life, with subsequent positive impacts on their physical recovery efforts.
Lymphoma and lymphoma-related recovery symptoms:
As previously mentioned, seniors over the age of 80 may elect to forgo a head-on battle with lymphoma, and instead, decide to manage their symptoms. There are still ways to maximize one’s quality of life in this situation without medical alert systems, devices or personal emergency responders.
No one would argue that investing in a medical alert device, system or personal emergency responder whilst battling cancer is a bad idea or overkill. The technology enables someone undergoing treatment or simply managing their symptoms the freedom to concentrate all their energy on getting better.
Conversely, if an older adult diagnosed with one of the 60 types of lymphomas elects to forgo purchasing just such a device, there are still means by which to ensure safety and a high standard of living. Hospital stays and in-home care may not be for everyone facing radiation therapy or stem cell transplants, so the decision must ultimately be left up to the older person in question, with the utmost respect paid to their wishes.