As people age, they are more likely to experience serious health issues. It is common for older people to be affected by glaucoma, dementia, arthritis and diabetes. The health issues older people experience can increase their risk of infections. The increased risk is compounded by the fact that an older person’s immune system isn’t as robust as it was during their youth, making it harder for their bodies to fight infections.
Over 40 million Americans provide care for a person 65 years of age or older. These caregivers provide unpaid labor. Most care for elderly parents, grandparents, or other relatives, although some care for neighbors and friends. It’s crucial for those caring for aging adults to be familiar with some of the warning signs that could indicate they have a severe health condition.
1. Diminished Self-Care
A change in routine self-care can be an indication of a medical problem. Older adults can experience pain from arthritis, making it difficult for them to bathe or change their clothes. Older people are also more likely to have dry mouth or bleeding gums. Their mouth may be sensitive if they have oral cancer. If your elderly parents have stopped bathing regularly and brushing their teeth, it could mean there is a significant health issue affecting their ability to care for themselves.
As you age, your body and your brain change. Your systems are not as efficient as they once were, which is why many older adults can forget where they left specific items or struggle to recall a name on occasion. When memory issues are persistent and severe, they can indicate that an older person may have dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Perhaps your parent leaves pots on the stove unattended because they forget they’re cooking or gets lost in familiar places. These can be signs of a severe health issue. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes of death, which is why it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with Alzheimer’s facts and symptoms. Early detection can ensure early treatment and prevent accidents and injuries.
3. Avoiding Social Interactions
Changes in your parents’ social habits can indicate there are serious health issues. Perhaps your mom has stopped phoning friends she used to talk to every day, and your dad has stopped attending his weekly poker games. Your parents may be withdrawing from social interactions because they are struggling with depression. It’s also possible they are suffering from hearing loss and are embarrassed about asking people to repeat information.
Although age-related hearing loss is common, many people can restore their hearing with high quality hearing aids. If you notice your parents asking you to repeat things, avoiding phone calls, and withdrawing from social engagements, take them to an audiologist for a hearing test. Audiologists, such as those with Hearing Health USA, are medical doctors who specialize in treating people with hearing and balance issues. They are qualified to assess, diagnose, and treat hearing loss in people of all ages.
4. Financial Changes
Significant financial changes can indicate one or both of your parents may have health problems. If your parents pay for expensive medical care, they may not have money to pay all their regular bills. Debt collection notices or suspension of electric services could indicate that your parents are struggling with memory issues or have financial challenges.
If your parents have a sudden influx of cash, it could also indicate they have pursued viatical settlements. A viatical settlement involves selling your life insurance policy to a third party. They pay a lump sum of cash to the policyholder and assume responsibility for paying the policy premiums. They also become the beneficiary of the policy. Viatical settlements are for individuals with a chronic illness. Suppose you notice your parent has mail from a reputed viatical settlement company, such as American Life Fund. In that case, it could mean they are considering a viatical settlement because of severe health issues.
5. Weight Loss
If your parents are losing weight, it could mean they have serious health or financial issues affecting them. People sometimes lose interest in food if they lose their sense of smell or taste. They may not eat enough, which could affect their ability to get the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy. Weight loss can also be a symptom of severe mental and physical health issues, such as depression and dementia.