Anemia In Seniors Can Be Very Dangerous  

Anemia in seniors is a real threat to all of us in our age group, and the older we become, the more dangerous it can be.

In fact, according to a recent study done by the National Institute on Aging, we face a major risk of it taking away our independence if it is not controlled.

It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when the decline will begin.

Although most of us throughout years have heard about anemia in general, when you really dig in and do the research on it, it is amazing how many different forms of it there are.

Anemia In Older Adults

Anemia in seniors is a condition where we lack the adequate number of red blood cells in our body.

Once this occurs, there are not enough of them to properly transmit oxygen to our tissues. In our younger years, this is a serious situation, but as we get older, it becomes amplified.

There is another interesting fact about these conditions; it can be just a temporary challenge, or it may be long term.

These conditions can also affect us in mild and annoying ways, or they can become quite severe and life threatening. 

The other major set of factors that is very important to fully understand, is the symptoms can mimic heart symptoms, breathing problems, and even some memory related problems.

Understanding the Symptoms is Critical

Anemia in seniors has several different symptoms, and because of this, we need to make sure we are properly checked by a professional to insure it is not this condition.

This is also one of the most commonly misdiagnosed condition as we reach our 70’s and 80’s, and my wife and I have seen this first hand.

The last thing you want for yourself or as a caregiver is to be treated for the wrong condition.

Here are the most common symptoms.

  • Weakness and Fatigue
  • Chest pains and irregular heartbeats
  • Pale or yellow tinge skin
  • Dizziness and headaches
  • A sensation of cold in both your hands and feet.

Wow!  Set back and think about this for a minute and then consider our experience.

We were caregivers for almost 8 years for my wife’s mother, and when we first brought her into our home, she was on hospice and given 1-2 months at the most to live by hospice.

She was on 32 different medications, was experiencing severe sundowning, and was diagnosed by a small town doctor with congenital heart disease.

Get A Second Opinion of Anemia in Seniors

Thankfully, we reached out for a 2nd and 3rd opinion and lived an area of the country that had two of the best medical institutions in the country.

Shands Hospital ran by the University of Florida, and the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Florida.

After these two new opinions, her medications were reduced by 2/3, she was taken off all pain medications, and was given several vitamin shots including B12 and vitamin D.

She had one of the several forms of anemia in seniors, the vitamin deficiency form  

She was several malnourished.

Now that about this for a moment; shortness of breath, chest pains, dizziness and headaches, all the symptoms pointed to a heart condition, but it was not.

At our age and older, always get more opinions.

Couple On The Beach With Their DogCouple On The Beach With Their Dog

The Potential Causes

With anemia in seniors, however, there may be more than one cause and here are the most common

  • Our body is not making enough red blood cells
  • Our body is destroying our own red blood cells
  • You are bleeding and may not know it and your body cannot keep up with production

Our body makes three different types of blood cells; white, platelets, and red.

Our white blood cells are the fighters in our body, as they seek and destroy any type of foreign invaders.

Our platelets are the major agents in clotting our blood, and red blood cells carry oxygen throughout our entire body.

However, red blood cells contain what is referred to as “hemoglobin, and this gives our blood the red colorization and also carries carbon dioxide out of our body when we exhale.

Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of metabolism and in order for our red blood cells to do their various jobs, they need several key nutrients.

These include the mineral iron, Vitamin b12, and folate, as well as several other essential nutrients.

The Different Types

Anemia in seniors is much broader and complex than most of us realize and they include some of the following;

  • The Iron Deficiency Anemia
  • The Vitamin Deficiency Anemia
  • Anemia Associated with Chronic Disease
  • Leukemia and Myelofibrosis
  • Sickle Cell Anemia

At our age, we are at a much higher risk of developing several of the different types, as our body is no longer producing the three different types of cells like they used to

A couple of the major causes are no longer a factor and this includes menstruation as well as pregnancy.

However, we are at risk because of some of the following:

  • A diet lacking the key nutrients
  • Intestinal disorders such as Crohns and Celiac disease
  • Chronic health conditions
  • A Family history of any of the forms

Anemia is seniors, in the majority of cases, can be controlled and even prevented by eating the right type of diet.

The Supplements You Need

However, some of the different forms may have to be supplemented for one simple reason; as we age our body may not absorb nutrients like it used to.

As in the case of my wife’s mother, we supplemented several different nutrients including iron.

Here are the key nutrients

  • Iron
  • Folic acid or Folate
  • Vitamin B 12
  • Vitamin C
  • A Senior Multivitamins

These key nutrients may hold off these various forms, but there is still one key thing you need to do.

Get a 2nd or 3rd opinion for yourself. If you are a caregiver for either of your parents, you need these different opinions.


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