Top 5 Risk Factors of Decline in Older Adults

About 84 million people in the U.S. will be age 65 and over by 2050. As adults approach this age group exercises, socialization, and independent living become more necessary. Unfortunately, all it takes is a fall or an illness to make a healthy person start to decline. Not only will it limit daily activities, but can ultimately lead to a loss of independence.

 

Lower Body Weakness:

Preserving muscle strength is very important. Without muscle strength, seniors have a high risk of falling or becoming less likely to perform daily activities. Elderly people may have muscle weakness due to vitamin D deficiency. Risk factors that play a key role in vitamin D inefficiencies for seniors include: decreased dietary intake, diminished sunlight exposure, and impaired intestinal absorption. Falling due to muscle weakness greatly reduces the ability to perform daily tasks by causing injury to the hips, forearm, humerus, and pelvis. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “Vitamin D deficiency has been reported to affect predominantly the weight-bearing anti-gravity muscles of the lower limb, which are necessary for postural balance and walking.”

 

Lack of Nutrition:

The lack of nutrition in older adults stems from a combination of physical, social, and mental issues. Issues initiated by malnutrition can lead to numerous health concerns such as: muscle weakness, weakened immune system, and higher risk of hospitalization. One way to counter malnutrition is to eat foods packed with nutrients such as: fruits, vegetables, yogurt, cereal, and egg whites. Social interaction is very important in seniors, especially since it tends to decrease as people age. Social separation in older adults when eating may cause them to not enjoy meals as much, and can be the reason why they lose interest in eating.

Social Isolation:

We recognize how important social interaction is for individuals, especially senior citizens. Often, people take for granted how important social relationships are to their health. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Socially isolated individuals have an increased risk of developing chronic illnesses.” Social isolation in older adults also correlates to longstanding illnesses including: chronic lung disease, arthritis, impaired mobility, and depression.

 

Unmanageable Chronic Illness:

Chronic illness is usually caused by multiple disorders, superimposed on age-related changes. However, there are ways to make managing a chronic illness easier. At Renaissance, we have Certified HHA’s experienced and trained in caring for individuals that may be facing chronic illnesses such as dementia, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis. Properly explaining a patient’s diagnosis can be extremely helpful in reassuring that the patient understands his or her medical conditions and how to manage it.

 

Medication Errors:

Medication errors in older adults are extremely common. Having several pills for multiple conditions can help lead to mixing medications that should not come into contact with each other as well as improper drug and food interaction. For example, drugs such as painkillers and sleep medications should be used with extreme care. Foods such as green leafy vegetables that contain high levels of vitamin K can also be dangerous when mixed with blood thinners. Patients should consult with their home care provider or designated nurse for any questions regarding proper use of medication.

Health decline in older adults can be prevented and at Renaissance Home Health Care, we understand that the best type of care is care that meets the needs of an individual’s mind, body, and spirit.