When you have parents, older siblings, or even aunts and uncles, it can be tough to watch them get older, especially if their aging is marred by health complications, which are not uncommon.
It is an unfortunate reality that as many people get older, their health needs become more complicated, which means it can be tougher to navigate what is needed to help them stay happy and healthy.
So, if you are brand new to the world of elderly care as a professional carer or as a family member, here are some of the key ways that old age can heighten a person’s medical needs.
Increased Prevalence of Chronic Conditions
As a person gets older, the likelihood of developing chronic conditions rises significantly. Conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory illnesses become more common. Aging is often associated with physiological changes too, and these can lead to the development of the aforementioned disorders, requiring long-term management and medical intervention. Consequently, older adults require regular monitoring, medication management, and lifestyle adjustments, such as moving into Signature Care Homes, to mitigate the impact of chronic conditions on their health.
Declining Sensory Functions
The aging process often brings about changes in sensory functions, including vision and hearing. Many individuals experience age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, or glaucoma, leading to impaired vision. Hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance problems are also common. These sensory impairments necessitate regular screenings, specialized treatments, the use of corrective devices like hearing aids or eyeglasses, and modifications to the living environment to ensure safety and quality of life.
Increased Susceptibility to Infections
With advancing age, the immune system undergoes changes, making older adults more vulnerable to infections. The immune response weakens, reducing the body’s ability to fight off pathogens effectively. Consequently, older individuals are at a higher risk of developing conditions like pneumonia, urinary tract infections, influenza, and skin infections. Preventive measures such as vaccinations, maintaining good hygiene practices, and prompt medical attention for any signs of disease become crucial in managing the health of older adults.
Age-Related Cognitive Changes
As individuals age, they may experience cognitive changes, such as a decline in memory, attention, and processing speed. In some cases, these changes can progress to neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Medical needs in this context involve early detection through cognitive screenings, appropriate diagnostic evaluations, and the development of personalized care plans. Treatment modalities may include medications, cognitive therapies, and support services to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their caregivers.
Polypharmacy and Medication Management
With age, the likelihood of individuals requiring multiple medications, known as polypharmacy, increases. Various chronic conditions often necessitate the use of different medications to manage symptoms and prevent complications. However, the simultaneous use of multiple medications can lead to drug interactions, side effects, and challenges in medication adherence. Older adults require careful medication management, including regular medication reviews, consultation with healthcare providers, and comprehensive medication reconciliation to ensure appropriate and safe drug regimens.