Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the colon, also known as the large intestine. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease comprise what is known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). While most people with ulcerative colitis first have symptoms in their 20s, the second most common time to be diagnosed is between the ages of 50 and 80.
Although treatment of ulcerative colitis is the same, regardless of age, it has recently been suggested that treatment as usual may not benefit the elderly. Care for ulcerative colitis is often based on data from clinical trials that may exclude older people because of their multiple chronic conditions and the resultant need to take many different medications.
But age makes a difference. Although ulcerative colitis is not generally associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancers, there is a strong association between the two in the elderly population. However, screening for colorectal cancers often includes colonoscopies, which are more risky in the elderly.
Moreover, ulcerative colitis is often treated with corticosteroids, which increases the risk of contracting an infectious disease, since steroids suppress the immune system. Anyone being treated with corticosteroids, immunomodulators, or biologic agents that are known to impair the immune system, should make sure to be vaccinated against the most common infectious diseases, including the flu, hepatitis B, and pneumococcal disease. This is even more important if the person is older, and therefore at greater risk of complications from these diseases.
Older people with ulcerative colitis are also a greater risk of the following life-threatening complications: toxic megacolon; perforation of the colon; blood clots (thrombosis), including deep vein thrombosis (DVT); and primary sclerosing cholangitis.
Early recognition — and proper management — of ulcerative colitis can help UC sufferers decrease their risk of complication, and have a similar survival rate is the general population.
At Tower Lodge Care Center, in Wall, NJ, we specialize in geriatric care, and are best able to care for the unique needs of the elderly. We take a restorative approach to care, maximizing each resident’s ability to maintain function and enjoy life.
Tower Lodge Care Center offers long-term care, rehabilitative care, short-term rehab, respite care for those times when family members just need a break, and hospice care.
Our nursing staff is warm and caring, and we consider each of our residents to be part of our family, a person to be treated with compassion, dedication, and respect.
Better yet, contact us, at 732-681-1400, or by clicking here to schedule a tour.