The Aging Process
The aging process is continual from the moment we are born. There are factors which sometimes affect how we age, including disease, lifestyle and exposures, not to mention just the aging process itself. The elderly are more at risk for certain conditions and outcomes as he/she ages.
Five Oaks Manor is committed to try and minimize these risks, but we cannot totally prevent them. Listed below are some of the common risks an elderly person faces. As you read this information, please feel free to ask questions and know our staff will do all that your physician’s order to help and protect the safety of each person who is residing in our center.
Due to such factors as altered visual acuity, decreased reaction time, a decrease in balance and muscle strength, demineralization of the bones and increased incident of orthostatic hypotension these conditions put the elderly at risk for falls, Diagnoses related to memory problems such as dementia or Alzheimer’s can cause poor safety awareness and increase the risk of falls. Medical conditions such as arthritis, strokes, hip fractures, fractures in general, Parkinson’s and foot disorders and deformities make the possibility for falls more likely.
Pain is a common experience for many elderly. It is associated with a variety of chronic and acute medical conditions. These conditions include: arthritis, muscle and bone conditions, cancer, shingles, poor circulation, an injury and inflammatory diseases.
Weight Loss and Dehydration
Some elderly can lose their desire to eat and drink due to decrease or loss of taste and smell. Sometimes dementia and memory loss can cause a person to refuse to eat or drink or may be attributed to a more severe medical condition dysphagia. If there is decrease in kidney function this can lead to more fluid loss and dehydration. Loss of saliva may make swallowing of foods more difficult. Even certain medications can cause a reduction in appetite and thirst sensation.
Skin Tears, Bruising, Pressure Ulcers and Wounds
As the aging process continues the skin can become fragile and there is a loss of fat under the skin and a decrease in blood circulation thereby making the elderly more at risk to injure the skin even by doing daily living skills. There are many factors which effect the skin, the list includes but not limited to such things as: lack of exercise, loss of bowel and bladder control, poor nutrition, dehydration, and such diseases as diabetes, renal failure, peripheral vascular disease, anemia, dementia and other infections. These factors put a person as risk for skin tears, bruising and the development of ulcers and wounds.
Dementia and Memory Loss
As a person ages in addition to physical condition changes there is also mental conditions which may appear, the most common is dementia. There may appear behaviors such as verbal and physical abuse, acting inappropriately in public, resisting necessary care and wounding self or others. Other medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, strokes, psychiatric diseases and Parkinson’s disease can increase the risk for development of dementia.
The immune system is affected by the aging process and it is one of the reasons the elderly are more prone to infections, tumors and other immune diseases. Lack of exercise and movement can make a person more for risk for pneumonia, A decrease in fluid consumption can put a person for risk for a urinary tract infection, Once an infection is present, the elderly are more at risk for other medical complication and for death due to their body’s abilities to fight infection.
linical Depression can be associate with many symptoms such as depressed mod, loss of interest, change in appetite and weight loss, insomnia, agitation, decreased energy, feeling of worthlessness and thought of dying and suicide. Depression may also be associated with chronic medical illness, disability or complicated with dementia, bereavement for the loss of a loved one or friends and certain medications may also have a side effect of depression.
Due to age related changes as well as the presence of medical conditions, many elderly are on a variety of medications. Medication need to be monitored closely in the elderly due to decreased kidney function and metabolism which can lead in some cases to toxicity.