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5 Illnesses That Are Frequently Misdiagnosed in Aging Adults

By Dian Brannen, 9:00 am on

A good doctor can be an asset to a senior’s health and wellbeing, but even the best doctors misdiagnose illnesses on occasion. Allentown in-home care experts discuss 5 of the most commonly misdiagnosed illnesses in people over 65.

1. Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that can cause symptoms like stiff muscles, impaired balanced, and tremors in the hands, arms, and legs. Because there are no specific tests to diagnose the disease, a doctor may attribute the symptoms to a wide range of conditions, such as stress or Alzheimer’s. 

2. Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is another disease that cannot be diagnosed with a simple lab test. For this reason, many doctors mistakenly label fibromyalgia as chronic fatigue syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis. Alternatively, when a doctor cannot find an explanation for a senior’s chronic pain, he or she may diagnose the senior with fibromyalgia when another condition is the underlying cause. Exhaustion and fatigue, sensitivity to pain, and anxiety and depression are just a few of the symptoms. 

3. Multiple Sclerosis

When a senior develops multiple sclerosis (MS), the symptoms may come and go throughout his or her lifetime, which can lead doctors to diagnose it as conditions ranging from lupus to a viral infection. If you suspect your senior loved one has MS and are not satisfied with his or her doctor’s diagnosis, request an MRI to verify your concerns. Symptoms of MS include numbness and weakness in the limbs, vision impairment, and diminished balance. 

4. Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections are a common occurrence at any age, especially with women. Though pelvic pain, blood in the urine, increased urination, and painful urination are the more common symptoms, the infection can also cause confusion and irritability, which is especially true in the elderly. These symptoms can lead a doctor to diagnose the urinary tract infection as dementia or Alzheimer’s. 

5. Depression

Depression is extremely common in adults 65 and older, and it often goes undiagnosed. A doctor may even misdiagnose it as another disease, which can make the depression worse. Common symptoms of depression include insomnia, loss of appetite, becoming withdrawn from social situations, memory impairment, and hallucinations.

If your aging loved one is living with a serious illness and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers can prepare nutritious meals, assist with exercise, perform light housekeeping duties, and help in a variety of other ways. For more information on the respite and 24-hour care Allentown, PA, families trust and rely on, call one of our qualified Care Managers at 484-350-3874 to request a no-obligation consultation.