As we age, we experience an increasing number of health challenges. Also, many people face significant life changes such as retirement, the loss of loved ones, an empty nest, etc. For most people, adapting to these changes doesn’t run smoothly. Coping with life changes is difficult at any age, and it is natural to feel anxious about shifts in daily routine, health problems, and loss of social connections.
Although we know that we cannot escape the natural aging process, the fear of getting old is commonplace. For someone who has always been in charge of their life, the decline in health or dependency on others may be overwhelming. Many aging seniors struggle to come to terms with their aging, resisting inevitable changes – they may refuse to stop driving or refuse to move into the assisted-care facility.
If you are a family caregiver, dealing with an aging parent who refuses help can be a significant challenge.
How we handle life changes is often the key to healthy aging. Also, staying physically, mentally, and socially active can prevent fears and anxiety many seniors experience. Our fears about aging often stem from misconceptions and prejudices.
One of the myths people have about aging is that getting old means impaired health or disability. Although some illnesses become common as we advance in years, disease or dementia are not inevitable parts of aging.
At What Age Do Seniors Usually Need Daily Assistance?
At what age do seniors need assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) usually depends on their health status. However, a longer lifespan for many people means a decline in health and the inability to perform ADLs independently.
Research shows that two-thirds of aging Americans older than 65 need assistance doing day-to-day activities such as eating, bathing, cooking, moving around, etc.
Almost half of Americans aged 85 or older have Alzheimer’s or some other type of dementia. As a result, they are typically wholly dependent on others for medical care and meeting their daily needs.
The National Health and Aging Trends Study on more than 8,000 seniors suggest that 31 percent of aging adults are mobile and can perform activities of daily living without any help. At the same time, 25 percent of seniors are mobile but require home modifications and home devices to perform all ADLs. Eighteen percent of study participants say they have difficulty staying mobile and performing ADLs even with the home modifications and helpful devices.
What is the Responsibility of the Family for the Care of the Elderly?
Family support is the critical aspect of elderly care. A spouse, child, or another family member can decide to become a caregiver and help the aging person meet their needs.
Although aging itself doesn’t have to be a reason to seek the care of the elderly, often, health impairments and injuries require round-the-clock care. Many seniors need assistance with anything from their daily activities and healthcare to housekeeping.
Also, your family member may experience dementia or other incapacitating conditions that make them more or less dependent on others. As a family member, you should ensure that your loved one gets proper care and keeps their independence for as long as possible.
Becoming a caregiver for the aging family member can be, at the same time, a rewarding and challenging experience. Understanding your loved one’s needs can improve care, alleviate stress, and prevent caregiver burnout.
Data shows that more than 15 million people in the US are informal caregivers for a family member with dementia. However, many family members decide to become paid caregivers to their loved ones.
If the aging adult requires assistance, you can also hire a formal caregiver such as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) to provide in-home care to the elderly family member.
Furthermore, think about home modifications that might make your loved one’s life easier. For example, home modifications allow seniors to age safely in place.
Make sure to improve safety at your aging parent’s home. Consider removing unnecessary furniture and declutter their home. Ensure that there is easy access to all rooms and that your parents’ house is bright, without dark corners.
Coordinate your care with other family members and create social inclusion opportunities for your loved one.
How Does an Older Person Get the Proper Care and Support?
Your aging parent may decide to age in place and receive home care instead of relocating to a facility. In addition, people who are considered homebound (they have illness or injury that causes them trouble leaving home without help) qualify for home health services, so make sure to get informed about your parents’ care possibilities.
Home health care involves the following services:
- Physical therapy
- Intermittent skilled nursing care
- Occupational therapy
- Speech and language pathology services
The leading financier of home health services in the United States is Medicare. However, other insurance companies such as Medicaid, Long-term care insurance, Veterans benefits, Older Americans Act, and various private health insurance also may cover home health care expenses.
So, investigate the older person’s insurance options and make use of available care resources.
If you are a caregiver to an aging adult, make sure to attend an online caregiving course to acquire caregiving skills and learn helpful stress coping strategies.
Caring for an aging adult often requires patience, compassion, and empathy. Caregiver stress can take a toll on your health and well-being, so knowing how to provide the best care and support to an older person can help you become a great caregiver and minimize stress.
What are the Four Major Old Age Problems?
Old age is a unique life phase characterized by various health, cognitive, emotional, social, and financial changes. Most people consider old age a problem-ridden stage of life, with aging problems usually occurring after 65.
The four major old age problems include:
- Physical problems
- Cognitive problems
- Emotional problems
- Social problems
- Physical Problems
Physical decline and illness are one of the biggest problems aging people experience. Deteriorating health may prevent a person from doing things you enjoy or interfere with their routine activities. Also, chronic illness in the elderly may limit or cause a loss of independence, which is distressing for most people.
Mental disorders and cognitive decline are often associated with old age. Aging adults are susceptible to dementia, psychotic depression, personality changes, mood swings, aggression, and other mental health issues.
The decline in health and mental ability makes aging people dependent. Lost independence can be a great source of stress. Additionally, many aging adults face emotional challenges such as feelings of loneliness and isolation. The death of a spouse and other loved ones can add to the stress, depression, and anxiety the person already experiences.
Transition to retirement often means limited social life. Also, the death of a spouse, friends, and relatives restricts the person’s participation in social life. Studies show that loneliness and fear of being cut off from social circles are among the biggest fears people have as they age.
What Services Do Seniors Need Most?
Services that seniors need most involve:
- Health care and medication management
- Personal care
- Mobility and transportation
Health Care & Medication Management
Many seniors have chronic illnesses or injuries that require ongoing treatment and long-term care. Your aging family member may decide to age at home and receive home health care. This service involves medical care at home for an illness or injury.
Also, many aging persons need assistance with their medications (to ensure they take the proper medication or take medications on time).
Senior citizens often require assistance with bathing, grooming, dressing, feeding, etc. A family member, caregiver, or home health aide can help with these activities of daily living.
We all need proper nutrition to stay healthy and well. Healthy meals can be prepared weekly, so it is easier for an aging adult or their caregiver to heat them every day.
Mobility and transportation are essential to the elderly, so they might need a caregiver to adjust their wheelchair or motorized mobility chair or take them to medical appointments, grocery store, pharmacy, etc.
What are the Five Things You Must Consider when Taking Care of an Elderly?
When taking care of an older adult, you need to take care of the following five things:
- Behavioral problems
- Depression and anxiety
- Memory loss and other aspects of cognitive decline
- Home safety
- Caregiver stress
Behavioral problems. Many seniors with dementia show aggressive behavior with anger outbursts. No matter how disturbing this behavior is, keep in mind that anger and aggressive behavior stem from confusion, fear, and discomfort.
Depression and anxiety. Mental health concerns are often present in aging adults. Keep informed about these conditions and make sure your loved one receives the proper mental health care. Also, encourage the aging person to stay physically and socially active.
Memory loss and other aspects of cognitive decline. Aging adults with dementia typically struggle with memory loss and essential cognitive functions, which may cause depression, anxiety, confusion, and severe behavioral changes.
Home safety. This is an essential aspect of a senior’s everyday life as many aging persons decide to age at home. Ensure to minimize the risk of injuries and consider home modifications that would make the person’s life easier.
Caregiver stress. Be mindful about how much care you can provide without harming your own health. Share the caregiving responsibility and take care of your needs.