Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman
2 min readApr 1, 2024

Topic: Older Loved Ones And Thyroid Disease

A topic rarely discussed as it relates to eldercare is thyroid disease. Older loved ones and thyroid disease are a real thing! The thyroid gland has a vital role in the body. Let’s start with where it is, what it looks like, and what it does. The thyroid is a small butterfly-like shaped gland in the front of the neck. The thyroid makes and releases hormones that control many functions in the body. It is linked to breathing problems, heart rates and rhythms, digestion, dry, itchy skin, and body temperature. Body temperature control is an enormous problem with our elderly loved ones and problematic if thyroid disease is diagnosed.

Thyroid conditions result from the gland being underactive or overactive. Both can create health challenges that a caregiver must be mindful of and act on by contacting a healthcare professional on how to manage flare-ups. When the thyroid does not provide the required hormone balance to maintain equalization of the body, it can create symptoms.

Thyroid symptoms should be identified early by caregivers. If your loved one is experiencing hypothyroidism, expect to witness excessive tiredness and unwanted weight gain. They may complain of feeling very cold. Sometimes, the heart rate will be slow(also called bradycardia).

For hyperthyroidism, considered an overactive thyroid, you may see excessive weight loss despite a normal or healthy appetite. The most noticeable will be a rapid or irregular heartbeat. You may also witness your loved one being irritable and complaining of insomnia(trouble sleeping). Blood tests and symptoms shared with the healthcare team are how the thyroid disease diagnosis is confirmed. The blood test is the thyroid-stimulating hormone known as TSH.

Treatment Of Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism

I won’t spend too much time here because treatments vary based on presentation. I will stress the need to see a healthcare practitioner so that they can decide on the appropriate care plan. Medications, lab work, and sometimes surgery are recommended for hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is often treated with replacement therapy of the hormone. Sidebar: Sometimes, an autoimmune disorder may be the cause of thyroid conditions, which is another solid reason to seek medication advice.

As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, know that thyroid problems are often overlooked until significant signs and symptoms appear. If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing symptoms or has been diagnosed already and may show signs of either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, seek help right away. Be safe! Be well!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is a retired registered nurse and case manager, CEO of Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate and author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor, and The Black Book of Important Information for Caregivers.




Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Hickman is the author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor and The Black Book of Important for Caregivers.