As we age our bodies can become frail, our senses are not as sharp as they used to be, and our memories sometimes suffer. This is all part of the normal process of aging, but it may be a cause for concern if it negatively affects your parent’s lifestyle. Listed below are some health problems that may need your attention before they turn into a more serious issue.
Diminished mobility in an older person can lead to falls and bedsores which can require extensive medical care and therapy. Sitting or laying down for long periods of time can cause painful bedsores that can lead to more serious health problems if they are left untreated. An older person who is inactive may easily lose his or her balance and fall when attempting to stand or walk. Falls in older people can lead to serious injury and sometimes even death when help is not received immediately.
Forgetfulness and/or Confusion
Occasional memory lapses are to be expected as we age, yet frequent confusion or forgetfulness can lead to medical and financial consequences. Forgetting to take medication or go to a doctor’s appointment may be detrimental and create further health problems. Older people may send payment to companies whose advertisements can easily be mistaken for a legitimate billing statement. Other instances of forgetfulness or confusion can be embarrassing or scary and have a significant effect on a person’s mental health and daily routine.
Hearing, sight, smell and taste all decline as we age. Not only can this be frustrating but it can also be dangerous to an older person who is not able to see mold on their food, read medication instructions, or hear a medical provider’s diagnosis and advice. If an older person is unable to see or hear well and is still driving it can even be dangerous to others. Lacking of one sense can even impair another sense. An older person who can’t hear well may end up with glasses that don’t correct his or her vision because they were not able to hear the instructions during the exam.
Humans are social creatures, and the need for interaction can have a direct impact on an older person’s mental health. While many older people may have a social support system through their church or community, you may want to pay attention to changing behaviors in your parent if he or she is home bound and does not have frequent interaction with friends or family. Older people are at a higher risk for depression and suicide, so it is important to be familiar with what is normal behavior for your parent.
If your parent exhibits any of the above signs, and it has a direct effect on his or her quality of life, you should pay attention and become involved as needed. You should be concerned if your parent has already experienced a major medical issue such as a stroke, as it will have a lasting effect on your parent’s ability to function day to day.