Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory disease that affecting the colon, also known as the large intestine. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease comprise what is known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The most common time for people to be diagnosed with ulcerative colitis is in their 20s, but the second most common time is between the ages of 50 and 80.

Although treatment of ulcerative colitis is the same regardless of age, it may be that “treatment as usual” does not work for the elderly. Care for ulcerative colitis is often based on clinical trials that exclude older people because of their multiple chronic conditions, and need for multiple medications.

But age makes a difference. Although ulcerative colitis is not associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancers in the general population, there is a strong association between the two in the elderly population. However, screening for colorectal cancers often includes colonoscopies, which are more risky in the elderly.

Moreover, ulcerative colitis is often treated with corticosteroids. These steroids increase the risk of contracting an infectious disease, since they suppress the immune system. A person of any age who is being treated with corticosteroids, immunomodulators, or biologic agents that are known to hamper the immune system should be vaccinated against the most common infectious diseases. These include the flu, hepatitis B, and pneumococcal disease. This is even more important if the person is elderly, and therefore at greater risk of complications from these diseases.

Older people with ulcerative colitis are also a greater risk of the following life-threatening complications: toxic megacolon; perforation of the colon; blood clots (thrombosis), including deep vein thrombosis (DVT); and primary sclerosing cholangitis.

Early recognition — and proper management — of ulcerative colitis can help UC sufferers decrease their risk of complication.

Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program that provides seniors, their family, and caregivers the ability to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.

Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.

We provide a variety of services, including primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.

Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.

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