We all hope that our elder loved ones enjoy their golden years, but there are many factors that affect the success and happiness a person experiences throughout aging. Luckily, many of these factors can be prevented or at least managed.
Barriers to healthy aging can obviously differ from person to person; however, there are some general challenges that more typically affect the elderly and the enjoyment of this new era of life. These include:
- Exercise and Mobility: Exercise, and the oportunity to exercise, can decline rapidly as we age. With the decline in exercise comes a loss in mobility, which often leads to fall risk. One out of three seniors fall each year, and this can lead to debilitating injury – further perpetuating the loss of mobility and inability to exercise. One way to break this vicious cycle is to ensure your elder loved one has access to routine exercise. If he or she is at risk for falls, an occupational and/or physical therapist can provide exercise plans, strength and balance training and home safety checks.
- Loneliness: Sadly, loneliness is an issue for many older adults who are often isolated by health issues, family living far away, and the loss of friends and spouses to death over the years. Lonely seniors are more prone to depression, heart attacks, strokes or other heart complications. Loneliness also affects nutrition and can lead to cognitive changes, and seniors who feel lonely have a 45% increased risk of dying sooner. One way to combat loneliness is by employing a home care agency, such as Nightingale Homecare, to provide a home care aide, offering companionship, transportation, nutritious meals, encouragement to engage in fun activities, and more.
- Non-adherence to Medication: Recent stats show that more than half of all prescriptions aren’t taken according to doctors’ orders. This non-adherence has a major impact on health. Often, after a physician writes a prescription, there is little done to ensure the elder understands the medication and how to take it. Many times, this discovery is made only after the senior is admitted to the hospital due to complications from taking a medication differently than prescribed. Registered nurses who work with seniors at home to manage their medications and help with strategies to follow all other doctor recommendations are invaluable in helping seniors with this issue.
- Chronic Disease: 80% of seniors have at least one chronic illness, and 14.2 million are living with some type of disability, both of which can create tremendous uncertainty and challenges for the elderly. Learning to live with a chronic illness and having the tools necessary to have a successful outcome is necessary to the elder’s feelings of success and control. Engaging the services of a home care agency with experience in teaching chronic disease management to intervene can provide the tools necessary to manage the disease. The control is put back into the hands of your elder loved one. This can be very freeing indeed!
- Transportation Challenges: Older drivers are more at risk for crash-related injuries and death due to slower response time: nine times higher than the rate for drivers ages 25-69. It is important to understand that when your loved one is showing signs of cognitive or agility impairment, a discussion needs to take place about alternative transportation options. Often, the loss of a license creates isolation in the elder, leading to depression, mobility issues and other negative outcomes. Once your loved one comes to terms that he/she cannot drive, move quickly to find an option that will help maintain independence. A home care aide is a great option, as aides can provide transportation to and from events and appointments, and won’t slow your loved one down from running errands, keeping appointments and continuing with a robust social calendar.
To learn more ways to overcome the barriers to healthy aging, contact the Phoenix area in-home care experts at Nightingale Homecare at 602-504-1555.