Aging affects the whole body which can be very noticeable and quite obscure at times. The loss of physical and mental abilities, also known as functional decline, correlates to the effects of aging such as impaired vision, hearing problems, memory and brain issues, as well as weakness in bones. So how can you determine that a loved one is truly declining rather than enduring the natural state of old age? We’ve investigated this and found a few ways to detect the warning signs of a declining senior facing medical problems.
Changes in Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
Check for, extreme weight fluctuations as well as a decline in personal hygiene. Are they failing to keep up with daily routines like eating, bathing and brushing their teeth? If so, this can be an indicator of physical impairments or dementia. The lack of nutrition and personal care can stem from difficulty cooking, loss of taste or smell, social issues, or other serious underlying conditions. Take note of these warning signs as they can be indicators of decline.
Is your loved one showing signs of bruising? Are they forgetting what caused their bruises? If so, this can be a cause for concern. The number one decline in senior is lower extremity weakness, which can cause all types of health complications, from bruising to fractured bones. Often times, a senior who is forgetful is not aware of their surroundings and become prone to tripping and falling over normal household items. If you notice these signs be sure to contact his or her healthcare provider to properly assess the issue.
Be aware of the signs and symptoms of anxiety or depression. It should be known that depression is not a part of the effects of aging and should be treated immediately. Most of the time, the loss of support systems are the main cause of depression. Take note of a seniors mood and make sure to ask how they are feeling. If you notice that their mood has drastically changed, it could be an indicator of depression or other health issues.
If you see expired prescriptions or if you notice that a senior can’t remember what medication he or she is taking this can be signs of misuse or prescribed medication errors. Having several pills for multiple conditions can lead to misusing medications that should not come into contact with each other. Be sure to consult with their healthcare provider or designated nurse for any questions regarding proper use of medications.
Have you noticed that your loved one is having trouble managing their finances? Are there unpaid bills and problems keeping track of expenses or signs of carelessness with money? If so, they may be mishandling their finances and may be in need of assistance. A study published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that financial capacity decreases with advancing age, especially for women. Those who have trouble with handling their finances might also be having difficulties with activities of daily living, as mentioned earlier. Some additional warning signs of mishandling finances that you should keep an eye out for are: piled up mail, bounced checks, forgetfulness or calls from creditors.
At Spring Hills Senior Communities, we strive to prevent functional decline by ensuring our clients eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and properly manage any chronic illnesses our residents might have. Our Director of Resident Care, Elizabeth Ketteler, explains that “We understand that that the best type of care is care that meets the needs of an individual’s mind, body and spirit. Especially proper distribution of medication. This is vital for the health and well-being of all residents dealing with health complications.” At Spring Hills, we make sure all of our aides are fully trained in all areas of senior health care and are able to detect all warning signs of decline in a senior.