Recognizing Patterns of Decline as We Age
Wish what we may, none of us escapes the effects of aging. As we age, we each fight the battle of inevitable decline. But how that decline manifests itself can differ greatly from one person to another. Yet, while each of us is unique and experiences the process of aging differently, there are patterns of decline that we should all be aware of, and where possible, spot early, so we can work to delay or avoid what otherwise could lead to a loss of independence, or worse, to harmful events like a fall, loss of relationships, or loss of memory.
The patterns of decline that accompany aging can be categorized as:
Physical decline - this may involve anything from loss of vision or hearing, incontinence, loss of balance or strength, or lack of consistent, restful sleep.
Emotional decline - this may involve increasing sense of fear or anxiety and even periods of withdrawal or depression.
Social decline - this may involve loss of friends or loved ones, lack of outside interests or relationships, and can be compounded by weather or transportation issues.
Cognitive decline - this may involve loss of short term memory, but can also effect processing of complex information or tasks such as balancing accounts or paying bills.
Nutritional decline - this may involve anything from dentition issues, to difficulties with meal preparation, decline in appetite, or access/ cost of healthy foods.
While each of these areas of decline can also worsen others and while each individual may manifest multiple areas of decline, loved ones may have difficulty detecting early areas of additional support needed, and seniors often are either unaware of a change, or are less willing to directly share their concerns for fear of being a “burden” to loved ones, or loosing their sense of independence.
The good news is that newer technologies, like smart speakers and smart programs like MyDay can overcome many of the challenges that loved ones and their older adults face. Now, the issues leading to decline can be identified early, and simple steps taken to support or even prevent worsening decline. Seniors using the MyDay skill are screened over an initial 30 day period for any areas of concern that might lead to a loss of independence and vitality. Once an initial profile of the individual’s pattern of aging is identified, MyDay can be customized to help seniors take small steps each day to prevent decline, that are relevant for them as an individual. And, using Alexa can be a simple and fun way to master a growing world of technology.
If you are a family member or loved one who is concerned that your older adult may be at risk of loosing their independence due to any of the areas of decline, you may want to check out our free Well-Being Assessment Tool to help you identify any areas of potential concern.