Signs of Decline in the Elderly
Helping Seniors Age with Dignity and Safety
Identifying early warning signs is critical in helping our elderly family, friends and clients achieve a long, enriching life.
Everyone changes as they age.
These changes can be subtle (changes in taste) to dramatic (changes in personal hygiene). Taken individually it is often difficult to determine whether an elderly client or family member is declining to the point of needing assistance. However, when looking at signs of decline in the elderly, you can arrive at a level of concern based on the number of observable changes; the greater the number of observable triggers the greater the need for intervention. Here are several Key signs of decline in the Elderly:
Changes in Physical Condition
• decline in personal appearance
• decline in personal hygiene
• inability to complete personal activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as bathing, dressing, or maintaining a
• increased occurrence of Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) – can be hygiene related, decreased fluid intake
Changes in Perceptual Abilities
This represents changes in one’s ability to effectively utilize senses including vision, hearing, sensitivity to touch, taste and smell.
• decline in appetite
• quick, unexpected response to heat or cold (drinks a hot beverage without checking for temperature)
• inability to recognize something burning or off-smelling
• inability to hear buzzers, phones or safety alarms
Changes in Cognitive Abilities
• Repeating oneself (questions, answers, or stories)
• Responding indirectly to common questions (ex, Question: “Do you know what day it is?” Response:
“Why, don’t you know?”)
• Disoriented in familiar settings (office, restaurant)
• Sudden unexpected changes in mental status (calm, quickly upset, quickly calm)
• Decline in social skills (doesn’t engage in conversation)
• Decline in judgment (leaves water running, stove on)
• Unpaid bills
• Increased charitable contributions or check writing (may be victim of scam)
• Unfinished tasks (food not put away, bed not made)
• Inability to make decisions (fear of making the wrong decision)
• Depression or withdrawn behavior
If you have a friend or family member that exhibits a number of these signs of decline in the elderly, discuss your concerns with them or reach out to family members with your concerns. Your observations may be the catalyst to providing a great understanding to their condition, protecting them against potential harm or allow the individual and family to make appropriate arrangements to ensure the safety and happiness of the individual.
You can also contact local elder resources in your area or call All Stat Home Health at 941-923-0880 to discuss options and suggestions or go to our website at All Stat Home Health.
Together we can protect our elderly family and friends and ensure they achieve a long, enriching life.
Mayo Clinic – Aging Parents – 7 Warning signs of health problems – January 2012
Inside Elder Care by Ryan Moore – Common Signs of Functional Decline – August 2011