A Top-notch Caregiver Tips and Checklist to the 4 Common Elderly Illnesses

By: Rosemarie Tamunday Casanova — RN, BSN, MHA

elderly illnesses cover design
Graphic Artwork by Tom Banogon

The elderly are more vulnerable to illnesses, diseases, and ailments that may leave them handicapped in some way.

In some cases elderly may not even recover from them. It is a sad fact, but we will all eventually shake hands with the very thing that is going to kill us. However, this does not mean that all illnesses in older adults are incurable.

caregiver holding the hand of an elderly person

In fact, there are very few that are untreatable. When you are a caregiver and care for an elderly individual on a daily basis, you may come into contact with several diseases and learn how to deal with them through them. It can be difficult watching someone you care about succumb to illness at any age, but with seniors it is inevitable.

A little bit of background knowledge can help to prepare you for the worst, so here is a quick guide to senior illnesses and corresponding tips that will hep you cope up with the disease:


Cancer affects more than two thirds of seniors at some point in their lives. Some forms of cancer are more common than others. The most common types of cancer found in seniors are lung and breast cancer, but skin cancer also makes an appearance.

There are many ways to treat cancer these days, but the older the patient is, the smaller the chance of a full recovery. After all, how many eighty years olds are strong enough to come through a course of chemotherapy? Detecting cancer early is vital for patients' chances of recovery, so a medical professional must be consulted as soon as any abnormalities appear.

Tips for caring for a loved one with cancer:

doctor talking to a cancer patient


Dementia is a disease that affects a large number of elderly. All forms of dementia are caused by degeneration of the brain and associated damage to the connections between the brain and nerve endings in the body. In most cases, there can be little done to prevent or treat dementia, although some drugs can help ease the symptoms.

Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of dementia, and it is generally more severe than other variations. The symptoms are becoming increasingly confusing for sufferers, although initially, they know what they're going through. The symptoms may take anywhere from a few months to many years to appear, but when they do, the sufferer will probably not recognize you.

Caregiver tips for elderly people with dementia include:

illustration of an elderly person with Dementia


The disease known as Parkinson's affects the nerve cells that lead to the brain, and like dementia, no one knows exactly what causes it. Dementia affects an individual mentally, but Parkinson's affects the body first and then the mind.

It may be apparent that a sufferer has the disease because of uncontrollable shaking, which is just as frustrating as the confusion associated with dementia. Again, there is no known cure and drugs only work for a limited time before symptoms can no longer be controlled.

Here are some caregiver tips for a person with Parkinson's disease:

elderly with Parkinson's Disease having difficulty eating


This disease is becoming more prevalent among seniors due to their lifestyles and diets. As sugar and fat intake increases, the body rebels. Ailments such as diabetes are caused by the inability of the body to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. There is no cure for this disease, but it can be treated by either diet or medication, whether it is in tablet or injection form. It will not cause the death of an individual if treated correctly.

Wounds in diabetics, however, tend to degenerate more rapidly than those in non-diabetics because they tend to degenerate more quickly. Amputation of limbs is also quite common as a result of the illness. Therefore, a diagnosis must be made swiftly and observations must be made everyday thereafter.

To help older people with diabetes to stay healthy and active, here are the following tips:

diabetes testing kit

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ROSEMARIE TAMUNDAY-CASANOVA, RN, BSN, MHAExecutive Administrator/Owner, RIGHT ACCORD Private Duty-Home Health Care

Rosemarie is a certified critical care registered nurse, has a degree in Legal Nurse Consulting and a Masters Degree in Health Administration. Rosemarie has extensive background in nursing from acute care, home care, nursing education and health care management and administration. Her longest career was a critical care nurse for Veterans HealthCare Administration. She is an approved Home Health Training Provider for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (ADRD) by USF Training Academy on Aging.