Old age catches up with each one of us eventually. Unfortunately, we experience a decline in health as we grow older. Whether it is a close friend, relative or your parents, it is important to pay attention to the signs of declining health due to advancing age. Many of us won’t admit to the signs of declining health brought by age, while others don’t even realize we are advanced in age and need help around the house. Don’t ignore these signs of declining health that could mean it might be time for assisted living.
1. Increased memory loses.
Everyone forgets things sometimes. If memory loses are limited to forgetting things like appointments or where you placed your glasses, that is a normal and fairly common part of aging. However, if memory changes are more pronounced and alarming, such as forgetting common words when speaking, getting lost in familiar places and being unable to follow directions, there might be reason for concern. Schedule an evaluation with the doctor if you notice any alarming signs of memory loss in loved ones as they might point to Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.
2. Unexplained weight loss.
Losing weight without trying could be a sign that something is wrong. For older adults, noticeable weight loss without exerting oneself could be a result of underlying conditions, such as depression, dementia, cancer, malnutrition and loss of taste for food. Schedule an evaluation with the doctor if notice your loved one looks thinner and you are concerned about the loss in weight.
3. Downcast mood and attitude.
A drastic downcast spiral in mood, attitude and outlook could be a sign of depression or other health concerns. Talk to elderly loved ones regularly and ask about their activities and general well-being. If you notice they look sad, are not connecting with friends and have lost interest in past hobbies and activities like knitting or attending local clubs and organizations, something could be wrong. Schedule an evaluation with the doctor as soon as possible. Depression can be treated at any age.
4. Difficulty getting around.
Difficulty getting around among older adults is often a result of muscle weakness and joint pains, which could point to underlying conditions like knee or hip arthritis. Pay attention to how your loved one rises from a chair and see if she seems unsteady or unable to balance. Also, pay attention to anything that feels “different” about her strength and stature when you hug. If your loved one seems more frail than the last time you saw her and or is unsteady on her feet, contact a doctor and organize to get her a cane or walker. She might be at risk of falling; and falling is one of the major causes of disability among older adults.
5. Decline in personal hygiene and grooming.
A decline in personal hygiene and grooming in older adults may be caused by many things, including depression, dementia, physical injuries and memory trouble. Note any strange body odors when you hug and pay attention to unusual appearance, such as unkempt hair, dirty clothes and makeup that doesn’t look alright. Also, pay attention to your loved one’s home and note things like if the bathrooms are clean and heating system working. Share any concerns you have with them and find out if they need any help. It’s also a good idea to consult a medical or nursing care expert if you notice any big changes in cleanliness and basic hygiene habits. Poor hygiene and grooming means your loved one isn’t taking good care of themselves and might be unable to keep up with daily routines like bathing and brushing teeth.
Signs of declining health in older adults aren’t always clearly visible from a distance, especially if you spend limited time and don’t usually see them every day. It’s important to talk to the person openly, lovingly and honestly whenever you have any concerns on their health. Reassure them that you care and that you want to do everything possible to promote their health and wellness now and in the future. That might be all the motivation an elderly loved one needs to make changes, see a doctor or accept assisted living.