Lyme Disease in the Elderly

What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and transmitted via the bite of a deer tick. These black-legged ticks usually reside in wooded areas. In most cases, a tick must be attached for more than 36 hours in order to transmit the Lyme disease bacterium. The problem is that these ticks are so tiny that they often attach to areas of the body that are hard to see, such as the groin, armpits, or the scalp.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease:

  • Beware of Ticksa rash, often in a bullseye pattern
  • flu-like symptoms
  • extreme fatigue
  • muscle aches and pains
  • arthritis in the knees or other large joints
  • severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • heart palpitations and shortness of breath
  • facial paralysis (also known as Bell’s palsy)

Late stages of Lyme disease can cause:

  • symptoms of difficulty processing information
  • difficulty sleeping
  • neurologic features including vertigo or dizziness

When to Contact a Doctor:
A doctor should be contacted as soon as there is visual proof of a tick bite. It is important to carefully remove the tick and save it, if possible, to show the medical professional. The sooner treatment is started after a bite, the more effective it is.

In a study, patients with Erythema Migrans (EM) rash were treated up to 14 days with Doxycycline, Amoxicillin, or Cefuroxime. Patients with multiple rashes were prescribed 14 days of intravenous Ceftriaxone or Doxycycline. The outcomes for the elderly were compared to those of middle-aged (45-66) and young subjects (18-44). It was found that “older patients had slower resolution of EM and higher odds for an unfavorable outcome of treatment.” While Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics if caught and treated early, it can result in an infection that spreads to the joints, heart and nervous system if left untreated.

Allcare Home Health is here to provide gentle, compassionate care for loved ones recovering from Lyme Disease. Call our Client Care Manager today to schedule an in-home assessment. (919) 301-0236

Ref: Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Daniel Cameron MD,