Geriatric Care Issues for Seniors
The transition of parents into dependent elders changes not only the aging parent, but also changes the family forever. As the large Baby Boom generation reaches retirement age, they will require more and more help with daily care needs, and many families are just beginning to think about the many issues involved. From a care perspective, families need to understand the challenges their parents will face as the years go on, from hearing and vision loss, to the dependence issues that accompany the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They will need to have a plan for getting the help they need as time passes and circumstances change. Geriatric care services are growing in availability and affordability to help families as they navigate the complicated issues involved in caring for aging parents.
Caring for Aging Adults
With age, most older adults experience gradual reduction of their physical and mental capacities that eventually affects their ability to perform routine daily tasks and self-care. The risk for debilitating illnesses increases as well. Most seniors will experience one or more of these conditions:
- hearing and vision loss
- reduced mobility
- memory loss or impairment, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s
- slips and falls
- increased feelings of isolation or depression
- medical conditions such as stroke, diabetes, chronic respiratory conditions, arthritis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease or Parkinson’s
While seniors may continue to live and function well on their own for many years, children and family members should stay alert for changes in behavior, mood or health. For example, with even mild memory loss, which may signal early stage dementia or undiagnosed Alzheimer’s, the senior may suddenly be unable to pay bills, may forget to take medications or fail to eat regular meals, or may stop taking care of their appearance, such as bathing and changing clothes. Family members may notice signs like these that could mean the onset of conditions that will require more care and management over time.
Falls and Accidents among Seniors
Another danger to seniors who are living alone is the increased chance of falls or accidents. Due to common effects of aging, including declining muscle tone and strength, and declines in vision and balance, older adults are subject to falls. And falls, when they do happen, can result in serious consequences, including fractures that are harder to heal in the elderly. Reduced mobility in seniors can lead to longer term decline and even death. For elderly adults who live alone, the danger is even more urgent, in case they fall and cannot reach anyone for help.
Home Care for the Elderly Affects Everyone
The issue of caring for aging parents affects everyone. Seniors who live alone may face depression and loneliness, sometimes well disguised, but serious enough to affect their well-being and happiness. Add to that the dangers of serious health events or falls, and the dangers related to advancing memory loss and its accompanying confusion, and a senior alone can be in serious danger.
Families do their best to cope. An aging parent’s loss of function may be very gradual, and many families make small adjustments to cope with the parent’s changing needs, taking on driving the parent to appointments, doing their shopping, paying their bills, making their meals more often, and so on. More and more time is devoted to checking on and caring for the needs of senior family members. It becomes difficult to balance the personal needs of the family caregiver with those of aging parents. It’s not uncommon for families to begin to feel overwhelmed.
Geriatric Home Care Assistance
There is help for families coping with aging parents. Medicare helps with medical expenses. Families should make sure seniors receive regular dental and vision checkup as well. Senior services organizations, like Meals on Wheels, can make sure that the senior gets a hot meal daily, and check on their well-being if they are alone. When seniors need help in the home with daily personal care and other tasks, a senior home caregiver is a good solution. Geriatric home care services can provide relief to families and seniors by helping with daily care issues like meals, housekeeping, grooming, dressing and toileting, running errands, and providing medication reminders or transportation to doctor appointments. Home caregivers provide a vital service in providing companionship and promoting activities that support socialization. Their services are usually flexible and affordable. The caregiver may stay an hour or all day, providing regular care or occasional respite or vacation care.
A good geriatric home caregiver will get to know the senior and look for changes in their overall well-being that might signal health problems. Geriatric home care can be a relief to exhausted family members, letting them find time for themselves and focus instead on quality time with their aging parent.
Acti-Kare is a home care agency providing geriatric care services with experienced and compassionate home caregivers for families and seniors. Call Acti-Kare to make life a little easier for yourself and those you love.