Life Expectancies Go Up.
Yes, the statistics concerning aging continue to provide good news — people are living longer in today’s day and age than our ancestors. But there are also significant issues related to living longer which are going to require more of our attention. Longer life expectancy due to medical advances and a general understanding of health and the human body does effect other issues related to aging that need to be understood and addressed. More and more people in later years of life suffer from cognitive impairment, dementia’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. Some estimates are that as many as 25% to 50% of people over the age of 85 suffer from some form of dementia. Based on the projection of aging baby boomers, these statistics are likely to increase.
How to Cope With Dementia?
My mother has exhibited short term memory loss due to dementia. In small, social conversations, this can be very difficult to pinpoint. However, over extended hours it is very easy to evidence her confusion. Such individuals are often affected in terms of forgetfulness and judgment. It is much more than a “senior moment.” Elders may lose their sense of time and place, day, month, and year. Even my father, who reads two-three newspapers per day, constantly loses track of days and months.
In addition to confusion, there are many other behaviors to oversee. Walking difficulties, losing one’s balance. Sensitivity to temperature…most seniors can get cold very easily and may have their household thermostat up to 78 degrees or higher. Seniors may become lost amid familiar surroundings. Some of these changes may happen over a long period of time, or they may occur seemingly overnight.
Caregivers, whether extended family members or professional care staffers, should review the physical environment in the home. Take a long look at areas such as kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, garage and basement. How easily can the elderly climb stairs? Would an elevated toilet seat help? Are surface rugs causing difficulty with walking?
Is the home safe?