4 Treatments for Older Adults with Spina Bifida

By Lutgarda Mariano, 9:00 am on

Spina bifida is a birth defect that affects the spinal column. The condition can affect the spine to varying degrees, ranging from mild, which a senior may not even be aware of, to severe, which can lead to neurological complications. However, advances in surgical techniques can enhance the quality of life for a person born with this congenital condition. Victoria senior in-home care professionals discuss 4 treatment options for seniors with spina bifida.

1. Surgery

There is currently no cure for spina bifida, but surgery might help restore a senior’s independence if his or her nerves are affected due to aging. Most seniors with spina bifida may require surgery on the back to relieve pressure and alleviate the impulses moving up and down the spine. Seniors with the condition may require surgery on the legs to enhance their posture and restore mobility. 

2. Shunt

Meningocele is a severe form of spina bifida that results in excess fluid in the head. When left untreated, meningocele can cause permanent brain damage or even death. A shunt, which is a long-term treatment option that prevents unsafe pressure near the brain, is a small device surgically implanted in the head to prevent inflammation. The shunt runs just under the skin and allows the senior’s body to naturally discharge additional fluid. Seniors who have shunts placed in their heads must meticulously clean the incisions to prevent infections. 

3. Catheterization

One of the most common side effects of spina bifida is incontinence. If the bladder’s nerves have become damaged, most seniors must use a catheter for the rest of their lives. These devices are more comfortable than ever, and they can allow seniors to enjoy happy and fulfilling lives without worrying about any embarrassing issues. A catheter can also prevent secondary medical conditions, including kidney stones, kidney infections, and UTIs. 

4. Assistive Devices

If your loved one has been diagnosed with spina bifida, one of the biggest concerns is his or her independence. Even with advances in the field of medicine, most seniors with spina bifida need assistive devices such as crutches, braces, wheelchairs, or walkers. Finding the perfect assistive device is a personal choice, and your loved one may have to try out a few different designs until he or she finds one that is comfortable and ergonomic.

If your loved one has spina bifida, help him or her live a more comfortable life by reaching out to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are expertly trained to help seniors with special needs such as spina bifida, and we also provide Alzheimer’s and dementia care Victoria families can count on. A professional caregiver can help your loved one with daily tasks like medication reminders, cooking, cleaning, and exercise. For more information on the elder care options your loved one can benefit from, call one of our Care Managers at (250) 592-4881 to schedule a free consultation.