(NC) A growing number of people in British Columbia are finding themselves in the “sandwich generation,” looking after their children while also caring for aging parents. Over 40% of Canadians currently take on this dual responsibility, one that is even more challenging when parents face health issues. That’s why it’s important to help protect your parents from preventable diseases like shingles.

Shingles affects approximately 130,000 Canadians each year, including roughly 16,000 British Columbians. Shingles is a painful, blistering rash that occurs more frequently in people aged 50 and older. It’s caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox and more than 90 per cent of adults over 50 years old carry the virus, which lies dormant in the nervous system and reactivates as we age or when the immune system is weakened.

Approximately one in three people will develop shingles in their lifetime, odds that increase to one in two for those who reach the age of 85 or older.

Shingles can also result in ongoing nerve pain that occurs in up to 30 per cent of all cases and can last for months or even years. It can have serious negative effects, interfering with regular daily activities such as walking, sleeping and engaging in social activities with friends and family.

Some provincial governments are even recognizing how important it is for older adults to be vaccinated to help protect against shingles. Ontario already has a free shingles vaccination program for some seniors.

Fortunately, vaccination can help prevent shingles, which is why it’s so important to encourage your parents to talk to their doctor about shingles prevention as well as the benefits and risks of vaccination.