Five Common Medical Concerns You Can Watch For In Your Elderly Parents
It can be difficult to watch your parents or loved ones have medical issues as they get older. As people age, they face different risks and medical concerns. It can be unclear what to look for and how to help. This is why we’ve listed the top five concerns you can watch for in your elderly parents.
Dementia is common in aging people. While there are a variety of different diseases that can cause dementia, the majority of them have similar symptoms.
There are many symptoms of dementia beyond confusion and short-term memory issues. Struggling to find the right words or communicate thoughts, changes in mood, and loss of interest in activities can all be signs of dementia. Those with dementia will often have a hard time focusing and reasoning as well. Difficulty to learn new routines or follow new rules can also be a warning sign of dementia.
If your loved one is experiencing some of the symptoms of dementia, encourage them to visit the doctor.
DepressionDepression can be hard to diagnose. Everyone feels down at times and it can be hard to distinguish between clinical depression and feeling sad. A variety of events, large and small, can trigger depression. It can be hard to notice the symptoms of depression from afar. Paying attention to your loved one’s body language and habits can help provide some insights.
Depression has several symptoms. Some of the most common are feeling empty or sad, being tired and lacking energy, lost interest in everyday activities, trouble sleeping, eating more or less than usual, difficulty focusing or remembering, being irritable, or thoughts of death or suicide. If your loved one has several symptoms that last for more than two weeks, encourage them to see a doctor.
Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs. If left untreated, it can cause severe illness or even death. Individuals can get pneumonia from the flu or from themselves. Seniors have a higher risk of getting pneumonia. A weakened immune system can make it difficult to fight infections while the inability to clear secretions from lungs can cause infections.
Symptoms for pneumonia are usually coughing, fever, chills, shortness of breath, chest pain, and green or yellow sputum that comes up when coughing. If you suspect your parent or loved one has pneumonia call a doctor right away. A simple chest X-ray or blood test can diagnose pneumonia. After diagnosed, antibiotics can cure the pneumonia.
To avoid getting pneumonia, doctors recommend that caregivers and elderly receive the annual flu and pneumococcal vaccines. Additionally, wash hands frequently and avoid people who are sick.
FallsFalls affect one in four Americans who are over 65 years old every year (National council on Aging). However, most falls are preventable. There are a variety of ways you can help your elderly ones avoid falling and injuring themselves.
One of the best ways to help prevent a fall is to assess the safety in your loved one’s home. Check if pathways are clear, the house is well lit, nonslip bathmats are used, grab bars are installed, and everything is within easy reach. When visiting, pay attention to how your loved one walks and gets up from chairs. Notice is they are holding onto walls, furniture, or something else. This can help you understand if changes can be made to the house to increase safety.
Yearly vision and hearing exams can ensure that your parent is able to comprehend what is seen and heard and can help them be balanced. Exercise programs can also help build strength, flexibility, and stability. Certain medications can also increase a person’s risk of falling. Make sure that your parents know the side effects and risks of their medications.
ArthritisArthritis is very common, especially in people over age 65. Arthritis occurs when the fluid and cartilage between joints is worn out so the bones grate against each other, causing pain to an individual. While arthritis can occur in several different forms, the most common is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs after the cartilage has been worn down from a lifetime of use. This condition is often found in fingers, hips, knees, wrists, and spines. If your loved one complains about joint pain, encourage them to see a doctor. There are treatment options available.