The Risks of Shingles in the Elderly

Chickenpox may be a childhood disease, but it has an older — and more dangerous — form, known as shingles. Both chickenpox and shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus. However, they have very different effects. Chickenpox is characterized by in itchy, blistering rash that can occur on any part of the body; shingles first presents as pain, with a red rash following after several days.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three older Americans will develop shingle, including half of those over 80. A weak immune system increases the likelihood of developing shingles, and risk factors for shingles include taking immunosuppressants, such as antirejection medication after an organ transplant; steroid use; and radiation or chemotherapy.

Seniors are also far more likely to have serious complications from shingles. The most common complication is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), pain that lasts longer after the rash is cleared. PHN can be debilitating, and can last for years. The risk and the severity of PHN increases with age. Other complications of shingles include such serious conditions as bacterial infection, including necrotizing fasciitis, a life-threatening bacterial infection; blindness; encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain; hearing loss; facial paralysis; pneumonia; and toxic shock syndrome. Shingles is also associated with a significant increase in stroke and heart attack in the week following the occurrence.

Antiviral medications can reduce the severity of an attack of shingles, but prevention, as always, is the best medicine. The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine in healthy adults above the age of 50. Many insurance plans, including Medicare Part D, cover at least part of the cost of the shingles vaccine. For those who cannot afford to be vaccinated, GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures Shingrix, the preferred Shingles vaccine, offers financial assistance.

At Laurel Bay Health and Rehabilitation Center, in Keansburg, NJ, our residents receive the highest quality rehabilitative and skilled nursing care in a homelike and compassionate environment conducive to healing.

Our family-owned and -operated 123-bed facility, is tucked away in the quiet beach town of Keansburg, NJ at the Jersey Shore, within sight of Sandy Hook and the New York City skyline.

Our services include short-term rehab, long-term care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, hospice care, and respite care for those times when the caretaker needs to be taken care of.

We proudly provide the following specialty healthcare services: complex medical care management, intravenous (IV) therapy, wound care, enteral feeding, pain management, oxygen therapy, tracheostomy care, a dedicated pulmonary program, hospice care with private suites, a stroke rehab program, respiratory support, eye care, dental care, podiatry care, and psychological consults and counseling.

We pride ourselves on healing the entire patient through a holistic and individualized approach.

Our meticulous care planning helps us ensure that each and every resident receives the best in clinical care, support and unconditional love.

For over 25 years, we have been a staple of health and wellness, serving the members of our community and partnering with our local hospitals like Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, NJ and Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, NJ.

We provide a tailored program of physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as all types of specialized care under one roof.

Read our reviews on, wellness.comand to hear what our residents and their families have to say.

Or better yet, come see for yourself. Contact us to schedule a tour by clicking here or by calling (372) 787-8100.

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