Signs & Symptoms of Aging to Watch For
As we grow older, the body and mind often adopt a slower pace as we begin the aging process. Because of this, our aging loved ones may need some additional help adjusting and maintaining a healthy home and lifestyle. Harmony Caregiving, an Edmonton-based company providing home care assistance, is here to help.
Read on to discover the indicators, various options, and tips and tricks; make life at home a more sustainable and accessible experience for your aging family members. Here are some signs and symptoms to watch for in your senior loved ones:
1. Physical Mobility Issues
Do they seem to struggle with…
☐ Getting in and out of their chair, bed, or vehicle
☐ Climbing or descending stairs
☐ Hearing issues (would they be able to hear a smoke alarm?)
☐ Bending to move items, e.g., throwing the garbage out or lifting laundry baskets
☐ Manual dexterity, e.g. opening jars, lifting or gripping objects
☐ Decreased muscle mass, illness, arthritis, joint pain, bone fragility, injuries, or recent surgery
☐ Maintaining balance – have they mentioned any recent falls, or do they seem to be at higher risk of falling? (Keep an eye out for bruising)
☐ Maintaining personal hygiene to previously-held standards (for example, wearing the same clothing over and over again)
2. Difficulty Preparing Meals
Many seniors struggle with meal preparation to ensure proper nutrition from three balanced meals a day. Do you notice…
☐ Decreased ability to move hands and fingers, making it harder to open jars and use kitchen gadgets or appliances
☐ Increased physical limitations, such as pain in joints, back pain, and difficulty with balance and/or standing for long periods of time
☐ Being too fatigued to cook and clean in the kitchen
☐ Difficulty with their hearing or vision preventing them from seeing items clearly, or moving about easily in the kitchen
☐ Inability or difficulty leaving the house to get groceries and kitchen supplies
3. General House Keeping & Home Maintenance Repairs
Many seniors have difficulty maintaining their homes to previously held standards. Fatigue, physical discomfort, mobility challenges, or possibly dementia may result in…
☐ The house is messy and cluttered with items
☐ There are dishes in the sink and foods that are not stored properly
☐ Garbage not thrown away, stale smells and odours in the house
☐ Laundry not done or put away, or bed linens not changed
☐ House and bathroom not cleaned to previous standards (many seniors struggle to clean around the toilet and get to tight constricted spaces in the house)
☐ Garden, yard, and outside of house seems neglected
☐ Animals not being properly groomed, fed, or cleaned up after properly
☐ Bills not being paid, mail not being opened
☐ A significant change in the way papers are filed
4. Isolation & Avoiding Leaving the House
Have you noticed your loved one spending increased time at home and avoiding the outside world? You may have noted some of the following concerns…
☐ Difficulty driving to and from places due to physical limitations or fear of driving or walking long distances
☐ Unable to access public transit, further limiting their ability to move about the city
☐ Difficulty walking; physical disability or pain, or a fear of falling
☐ Easily overwhelmed and increasingly fatigued
☐ Disoriented due to medications, health conditions, or illnesses
☐ Feeling unsafe and vulnerable in public places due to physical or emotional problems
☐ Difficulty socializing or communicating with others, due to dementia, depression, or other mental/physical illness
☐ Experience heightened anxiety from chronic pain that leads to not wanting to be seen “in this state”
5. Cognitive Decline
Does your loved one show any signs of the start of cognitive decline?
☐ Recalling memories from childhood but struggling to remember what they did last week
☐ Items are often being misplaced (e.g. milk placed in the cupboard instead of the refrigerator)
☐ Forgetting to turn off the oven or the stove after cooking
☐ Mail is piling up and bill payments are being missed
☐ A change in filing or organizational patterns
☐ Forgetting to dress appropriately to the season and weather
☐ Start phoning much more frequently and forget they spoke to you already
☐ Gets lost in their neighborhood
☐ Personal hygiene declining
☐ Suspicion of people known and/or unknown
☐ They stop remembering what they do/don’t like
☐ No opinions, where they once decided every thing
What Could Be The Cause?
Many of these symptoms are part of the natural aging process. Sometimes, the symptoms can indicate an underlying issue that may require attention.
- They may be on medication that reduces their alertness and energy or otherwise impedes their previous abilities
- They could be forgetting to take medications
- Perhaps they are experiencing a decreased ability to concentrate and complete their usual daily tasks
- Many health conditions can cause the above; congestive heart failure, tumor, stroke, etc.
- Depression, anxiety, health problems, and dementia can affect whether they notice or care about the maintenance of their previous lifestyle
Where Do I Go From Here?
How Can I Ensure my Loved Ones’ Safety & Comfort at Home?
There are a number of options available to you as you seek the right support system for your loved one.
The first step is to take your loved one to a family physician; let the doctor know that you have some concerns in terms of safety, memory issues, or other medical conditions. The doctor will likely do a “mini mental” to test their cognitive abilities. From there, your doctor may recommend a full Geriatric Assessment and/or an assessment for home care assistance and services in your area.
*If you don’t have a family doctor, this website allows you to search the online College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta catalogs to find local physicians accepting new patients.
Are Home Care Assistance or Personal Care Services an Option?
The process of discovering the right supports for your loved one can take time, potentially months long for the arrangement of appointments and assessments. Investing in private home care assistance is an option; keep your loved one safe and your peace of mind in tact while the decision-making process is underway.
What are My Home Care Solutions in Edmonton?
Consider the needs of your loved one and research the agencies in your area. Home care is a varied field with many options; Harmony Caregiving Inc. offers a variety of services from companionship or medical care to assistance with anything from range-of-motion exercises, to meal prep or housework. Personal shopping, providing transportation and accompaniment to events or appointments are other forms of home care assistance that we provide. Different and adaptable levels of care are available, from weekly assistance to 24-hour care and everything in between.
There are also some minor changes you can begin implementing that may help to create more comfort and ease. For instance, install home care assistance appliances that provide added security, such as bathtub grips and grab-bars, medical alert personal response buttons, and automatic stove shut-off devices. A variety of supportive devices are also available to assist with mobility, such as walkers, wheelchairs, and canes. Simply moving items from high cabinets and shelves to the counter helps make daily tasks easier and more accessible.
It is a gift to know your loved ones are supported and have what they need to continue to live life to the fullest of their ability. Pay attention to the signs and symptoms in your aging loved one; then, help create more comfort, ease, and safety for them as you determine their changing needs and make the necessary adjustments.