Everyone responds differently to aging. If you have older adults in your life, make sure you and your family are thinking about their mental health and physical well-being as they grow older.
Also, if you spent time with your parents and/or grandparents, during the recent holiday season, reflect on any changes in patterns of behavior, speech, routine and memory that you may have noticed. What used to be an upbeat time may have left the older adults feeling overwhelmed.
Some ways to reflect, inspired by Promedica Health Connect’s “5 Ways to Check on Aging Relatives During the Holidays,” include thinking about how they acted when you:
- Greeted them with a hug: This likely made them feel cared about, but what did it help you observe about their stature, balance, weight and even body odor?
- Sat and listened: Active listening makes people of all ages feel valued, especially the elderly who may not have regular interaction. Looking back, did you notice signs of possible memory loss or declining cognition levels?
- Acted like a nosy neighbor: Were you able to rifle through mail, look for clutter and open the refrigerator, drawers and cabinets? If so, and if you noticed, unopened personal mail, unattended messes or expired food and medicine could all be signs of a bigger problem.
- Took a stroll or went for a ride: If they’re still driving, how attentive were they? If they’re still walking, how was their mobility?
Remember, the body changes naturally with age. Physical activities may become more difficult as arteries and blood vessels stiffen, bones become more fragile as they shrink and reduce in density, muscles lose strength, and the skin loses elasticity.
Cognitive function also naturally declines with age. However, if memory lapse is more significant—monthly bills consecutively missed or forgetting what time of year it is—that should raise a red flag.
Alzheimer’s disease affects 5.8 million Americans, according to Alzheimer’s Association’s 2019 annual report, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
As you reflect on the time spent with your loved ones, if you have any concerns, consider sharing those concerns with your loved ones, encouraging them to get a medical checkup, looking into home care services or seeking help from local aging agencies (which you can find at eldercare.acl.gov).
There’s a lot of gray area involved in identifying changes in your older loved ones, but one thing’s certain: staying up to date on medical checkups guarantees any red flags can be addressed. A Southwest General Medical Group primary care physician can share with your older loved ones whether or not the changes they are experiencing are normal, and can recommend any additional care or treatment that may be required to keep them healthy.
Remind them to schedule an appointment today by calling 440-816-5050.