As people grow older, their migraines usually get better (i.e. often becoming less frequent or severe). Light sensitivity, vomiting, nausea, and other symptoms also tend to lessen with age. Unfortunately, this is not always the case as there are many individuals who still experience migraines well into their 60s and beyond. If you’ve noticed your senior loved one experiencing them, there could be several reasons behind it. These include:
It can be easy to slip into the habit of taking pain medicine every day for common aches. But one of the side effects of mismanaging these medications is severe headaches. As much as possible, avoid having the elderly grow reliant on painkillers as their bodies could get out of whack. If they need to take these types of medicine for an injury, bring them to a migraine clinic to have their prescriptions reviewed.
This condition stems from a reduced blood flow to the brain and typically occurs after a stroke. Irregularities in blood circulation to the brain can lead to migraines. Excessive drinking, poor diet, stress, and high cholesterol can all have a negative impact on the body. Hence, encourage the senior to lead a healthier lifestyle to prevent the onset of vascular disease.
Major Life Changes
Retirement and other life-changing situations can lead to migraines in the elderly. With no job to focus on, their joy in life could begin to fade, especially if their career was a huge part of their self-esteem. They might even become stressed, puzzled, or depressed—all of which could affect their mood and cause headaches. To keep them busy, have them participate in activities in their aged care residence or community.
Giant Cell Arteritis
This is an inflammatory disease affecting blood vessels in the head and scalp. It can cause throbbing and persistent headaches centred near the eyes or temples, similar to migraines. Often, it is accompanied by weight loss and flu-like symptoms along with enlarged lymph nodes, sweating, extreme fatigue, and jaw pain. When left untreated, it may lead to vision loss or stroke.
Seniors who have lost some of their mobility are more prone to tension-type headaches. As your aging loved one’s mind becomes consumed with their inability to perform certain activities, they may experience anxiety which leads to migraines. The purchase of a motorised wheelchair or some other device to help them be even a little independent can improve their mood and mind.
Sensory or visual changes can cause headaches. These changes include but are not limited to blurring vision and transient blindness. A headache specialist can help monitor their condition to rule out transient ischemic attacks or short-lasting strokes. Medical treatment must be sought for these types of pains and the senior may be prescribed with verapamil to help stop them.
The above are only six of the most common reasons behind migraines or similar severe headaches among the elderly. There are others such as head trauma or trigeminal neuralgia so you should make sure to have your loved one checked by a specialist such as The Brisbane Headache and Migraine ™ Clinic to ease their pains and have them live their golden years better.