Common Signs Of Functional Decline In Old Age

Common Signs Of Functional Decline In Old Age

Aging causes changes both mentally and physically, and a few of these changes can really put the safety of a loved one at risk. When thinking about an ageing loved one and whether or not they will need to transition into an assisted living facility or obtain senior home care, their true functional decline will need to be assessed. Sometimes functional decline is difficult to recognize, because individual signs might go unnoticed.

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Physical Changes

It is no secret that as the body ages physical strength, stamina, balance, and muscle coordination all decline. Many daily activities may become difficult or impossible to complete, and seeking senior home care may become necessary. Lack of physical ability can lead to many adverse situations, such as tasks and chores that are left unfinished, poorly cared-for pets, and poor hygiene.

Sensory Changes

These would be changes in hearing, vision, taste, smell, and sensitivity to touch. Each of these senses is very important to overall health and wellness. It can become easier to eat food that has spoiled or choose not to eat at all because food just doesn't taste the same. Alarms and buzzers can become more difficult to hear, while smoke may not be easily smelled if something has caught on fire. The sense of touch can be diminished by poor circulation, which may lead to being easily burned by hot objects like water. Poor hygiene can also be a result of sensory changes, as an individual may not realize that they have a foul odor and need to shower. Changes in sensation can sometimes be attributed to medications, and that’s not all that uncommon.

Cognitive Changes

Aging may slow the speed at which a person processes information, not just the speed at which tasks are completed. The ability to multitask may diminish, as the ability to divide attention fades away with age. There are changes that can be expected within a normal range, but with complications such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia, these cognitive changes are exaggerated. With Alzheimer's the inability to solve problems and the lack of language processing skills affects the loved one's level of independence greatly.

What to Look For

As changes in physical, cognitive, and sensory behaviors develop, it is vital to look for the signs pointing to the need to find assistance such as through senior home care. An elderly person with Alzheimer’s disease may become disoriented or confused when a change in location occurs, such as during a doctor's visit, eating at a restaurant, or even visiting friends and family. They may begin to give evasive answers to simple questions or express aggressive behavior with noticeable personality changes.

With cognitive decline, routine daily tasks may not be completed because of lack of interest or loss of memory on how to do them. Judgment skills may decline and the inability to recognize consequences will manifest in such forms as not turning off a stove, leaving water running, or leaving the front door unlocked. Social skills may decline and they may no longer be able to successfully engage in a conversation. Recognizing all of these signs are important in deciding if your loved one will need specialized senior home healthcare. Your ultimate goal should be to maintain their safety, nurture the skills and abilities they do have, and promote their dignity.

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