Medical Alerts for Seniors with Werner Syndrome

Medical Alerts for Seniors with Werner Syndrome

time icon 6 min read update icon Sept. 29, 2019


Werner Syndrome is an extremely rare, systemic disease that occurs due to a genetic mutation. Its associated characteristics include premature aging and cancer predisposition.One in 200,000 individuals is affected by the disease in the United States. Individuals with this disorder usually develop and grow normally until puberty is reached. At this time, growth may cease.

Signs of premature aging often begin to develop when individuals are in their twenties. These signs include hoarseness of the voice, rapid graying and loss of hair, and a thinning and hardening of the skin. Those living with Werner Syndrome often have thin limbs and a broad trunk, due to abnormal fat deposition.

Werner Syndrome Overview

Werner Syndrome is a rare, progressive disorder that is characterized by the acceleration of the aging process. The disorder is usually identified by the age of 30. Individuals with Werner Syndrome experience grow that a slower rate. Growth usually ceases at puberty. Affected individuals usually have short statures and may be significantly underweight. Individuals usually experience hair graying and loss by their mid-thirties.

As the disease progresses, additional abnormalities may develop, including fat loss, severe loss of muscle tissue and degenerative skin changes, particularly in the face, arms, legs, hands and feet. The facial structure is also affected; therefore, individuals with Werner Syndrome may have other characteristic facial abnormalities.

Werner Syndrome Impairment

As Werner Syndrome progresses, those affected by the disease may develop a variety of impairments, such as:

  • Skin ulcers
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetes
  • Infertility
  • Osteoporosis
  • Severe hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • Some types of cancer

During the course of the disease, it is quite common for affected individuals to develop several cancers. Individuals with Werner Syndrome rarely live to their late forties or early fifties. The most common causes of death are atherosclerosis and cancer.

Medical Alert Benefits

Medical alerts can provide security to those living with Werner Syndrome. Due to weakened bones and extreme muscle loss, those with the disorder may experience frequent falls that may contribute to repeated fractures or other traumas. If an emergency occurs, medical alerts can be utilized to ensure that help will arrive quickly.

Symptoms of Werner Syndrome may vary in severity. Common symptoms are:

  • Cataracts in both eyes
  • Skin changes associated with aging
  • Change infacial features
  • Hoarse or high-pitched voice
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Shortened stature
  • Early graying and/or thinning of the hair
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Diminished fertility capabilities
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancers
  • Bone changes in the fingers and toes
  • Tissue changes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Flat feet and thin limbs
Safety Without Medical Alerts

Many individuals suffering with Werner Syndrome choose to live their lives without medical alerts. Since the disease is usually diagnosed during childhood years, sufferers have likely grown accustomed to the limitations and special requirements required to live a safe and happy life.

  • Skin changes: Individuals with Werner Syndrome may experience thinning of the skin, as well as the loss of skin elasticity.This symptom is typical, and places individuals at risk for injuries and bruises. To prevent skin injuries, individuals should use caution when getting in and out of bed. Mobility assistive devices such as canes and walkers may be use for stabilization. Additionally, water should be consumed throughout the day. This helps to hydrate the skin, making it less prone to injury.
  • Loss of muscle tone: Individuals with Werner Syndrome may experience loss of muscle tone. Loss of muscle tone decreases one’s strength and mobility, and is a major factor in the probability of falls and fractures in older adults.Exercise, particularly resistance training or strength training, can be done to increase muscle strength and tone. Talk to your doctor to develop a safe and effective exercise plan tailored to your needs.
  • Osteoporosis: Vitamin D is vital in regards to bone health. Although many are able to obtain vitamin D naturally, vitamin D production decreases in individuals who have Werner Syndrome. In many instances, vitamin D supplements can be taken to ensure an adequate intake. 
Werner Syndrome Precautions:
  • Avoid smoking: Smoking accelerates the aging process while increasing complications associated with atherosclerosis, heart disease and diabetes.
  • Get active: Being physically active can help individuals to feel alert, have more energy and develop a greater sense of well-being.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Those with Werner Syndrome should try to maintain a healthy weight, to help decrease the risks associated with heart disease and other conditions.
  • Limit sun exposure: Individuals with Werner Syndrome are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. Therefore, sun exposure should be limited to a minimum, and protection should be used when outside.
Werner Syndrome Medical Alerts Conclusion

Seniors living with Werner Syndrome may have reasonable concerns of possibly falling or sustaining serious injury. Falls, with or without injury, can have a huge impact on an individual’s quality of life. Fortunately, medical alerts can serve as a reliable link in the event of an emergency.

Individuals should not live in fear or limit activities and social engagements due to the disease. Isolation could lead to other conditions, such as depression and feelings of helplessness. Medical alerts are designed to allow individuals to continue to live their best lives, while being assured that help will be there quickly if needed.

T. Mashae Pearson - Senior Advisor

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