The Art of Recognizing Health Issues in Aging Adults

One of the most difficult things anyone will have to do in life is to watch their aging loved ones’ health deteriorate. And sometimes this happens at a pace that we’re just not ready for. 

In fact, health declines can happen suddenly and without warning sometimes. One day you’re laughing and enjoying your time together, and the next you’re sitting at their bedside at a nursing home.

But nobody wants to see their loved ones end up in a nursing home, especially with all the cases of elderly neglect at nursing homes today.  

As such, if you have an elderly loved one that you’re concerned about (whether they’re in at-home care or in a nursing home), knowing the signs of declining health can help you to better prepare and plan for the care of your loved one. In fact, recognizing the signs early on may save your loved ones’ life if care is sought in enough time.

Here, we’ll explore a few of the more common signs of declining health in our elderly loved ones. 

Personality Changes

Our mood and demeanor are greatly influenced by the health of our neurotransmitters and synapses within the brain, as well as levels of serotonin and endorphins. And any rapid fluctuation within these networks can drastically alter mood.

As such, injuries to the brain can have a dramatic effect on personality and mood. Or a change in hormones and chemical makeup within the brain can also cause this to occur. Regardless, if you do notice a significant change in the mood of a loved one, this is reason to consider having a medical consultation.

A change in personality or mood can be recognized by an overall lethargic demeanor. Or you may notice that your loved one doesn’t seem to have an interest in certain activities that they once enjoyed. 

If you do notice this change, be sure to coordinate a medical examination.

Disorganized Home

Perhaps one of the most overlooked signs of deteriorating health is a newly disorganized home, or a home in disarray when it wouldn’t be the case otherwise. 

When we age, sometimes we lose significant energy. And our normal tendencies to keep things tidy and in place may get pushed off for later. But if you’ve noticed your loved ones’ home becoming more and more disorganized, this may also be a sign of deteriorating health.

For example, if you notice a sink full of dishes that seem to be sitting around for a while, laundry all over the house, or an overflowing trash can, this can be a sign of mental health issues such as dementia. 

If this is the case, it’s time to talk to your loved one about how they’ve been feeling, and you may want to convince them to go and see their doctor.  

Difficulty Moving Around

One of the easiest signs to spot concerning declining health is the inability to move around as freely, especially when negotiating stairs, corners, and other obstacles. 

When we age, our muscles naturally lose mass. Additionally, our motor skills and sense of coordination might be slightly diminished. But if you notice a sharp decline in your loved one’s ability to go upstairs or maneuver around corners, this might be reason for further concern. 

Inability to move properly can be a sign of serious physical health problems. And if this happens abruptly, it’s time to visit your local healthcare provider. 

In addition, difficulty moving around can cause your elderly loved one to slip and fall, and this could further exacerbate any physical problems.

Loss of Appetite 

One of the lesser noticed conditions is an abrupt loss of appetite. And this can be caused by a variety of physical or mental health problems.

Depending on the physical health of your loved one, skipping meals may be something they’re doing because of improper bowel movements, indigestion or heartburn. But a complete lack of eating, or if you notice spoiled or expired food in the refrigerator, could be a sign of memory loss, the onset of dementia, or Alzheimer’s. 

Diet plays a crucial part in our overall health throughout our lives and especially as we age into our later years. And any vitamin deficiency caused by the lack of eating or loss of appetite can have a huge impact on your loved one’s overall health, and for staying healthy. 

If you do notice this trend, be sure to consult your loved one about it, express concern in a kind manner, and encourage them to speak with a doctor. 

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