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The Loving Home Care Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries

Behavioral Changes in Seniors

By: Vernon Shipway

4/26/22

  Similar to cognitive changes, some behavioral or personality changes can be expected in seniors. After all, everyone grows and changes as they age. However, if there are sudden or drastic changes in a senior's behavior or personality, it may be worth bringing these changes up with their doctor. In this entry, we will talk about some of the reasons why an elderly person's behavior may change and how to best support them.


  Medication side effects: It is not uncommon for certain prescriptions to have behavioral side effects. It is also possible for some prescription medications to react negatively with over-the-counter drugs, which can also lead to behavioral changes. Talk to their doctor and discuss possible changes to their doses or prescriptions if there is a strong negative effect on their feelings.


  Early signs of Dementia: Dementia is varied and complex, but can often lead to large behavioral differences in older adults. It can be scary, confusing, and overwhelming to experience dementia which can then lead to irritability, anger, and frustration, among other strong emotions. If you believe that your loved one may be showing early signs of dementia or Alzheimer's, speak to their doctor and have them evaluated. From there, you can determine what type of care may be best for them.


  Vision and Hearing Changes: Similarly, experiencing decline in one’s hearing or sight can be a scary and frustrating experience, which can lead to irritability and feeling overwhelmed. Of course there are assistance options like glasses or hearing aids, but these may be uncomfortable for some or may feel embarrassing to use. Be patient with your loved ones and assist them, even if it’s as small as repeating yourself, speaking in a louder tone, describing things to them, etc.


  Mental health issues: Mental health issues like depression or anxiety can lead to changes in behavior, and can be brought on by the experiences that come with aging, such as losing loved ones/friends, social isolation, etc. It’s important to keep your loved one active and offer companionship, and/or to seek out professional help if needed.


  Unresolved fears/concerns: Some people may not always speak their minds about the concerns or fears that they are experiencing, especially if they are going through large changes like loss or beginning to require more care. Always make sure to make time to reach out, offer support and listen to these concerns when they are brought up. Try to work with your loved one to offer solutions or support during these times.


  Caring for an aging parent or loved one can be difficult and overwhelming, especially if they start acting differently. Loving Home Care LLC offers respite care as well as companion care, and in-home services. Call us at (802) 489-4927 or email us at [email protected] to learn more about our services and create a customized care plan for you and your loved one.

(info sourced from Home Care Assistance)  

Cognitive Changes in the Elderly​

By: Vernon Shipway

4/12/22

  As we age, we tend to experience changes in the way that our brains work, and it is completely natural to notice some decline in our cognitive skills as we grow older. Some of these skills are resilient and may even improve with age, while others will experience decline.

  Roughly speaking, different cognitive abilities are categorized as either crystallized or fluid. Crystallized cognition refers to skills, ability, and knowledge that is well-practiced and familiar. Vocabulary and general knowledge fall under this category.

  Fluid cognition includes the ability to process new information, solve problems, and attend to one’s environment. Generally, a person will see more decline in their fluid cognitive capabilities than they will with their crystallized ones as they grow older.

  Here are some of the few common cognitive skills that may experience change as we age:

  Processing speed: If your loved one is taking longer to respond in conversation or to think through problems, they may be experiencing delays with processing speed.

  • Attention: When we become older, it can become harder to keep our undivided attention on something, and become easier to be distracted.
  • Memory: Both slowed down processing speeds and the inability to stay focused can lead to a deteriorated memory over time. Generally, there will be more decline in short term memory, while long-term memory will remain largely intact.
  • Language: Generally, an individual's language skills will remain stable throughout their lifetime. Word recall may decline in older adults, which can result in more “tip of the tongue” moments.
  • Executive function: Research has shown that mental flexibility can decline over time. Aging can also cause an adult to “lose their filter”, and instead speak their mind more directly.

  Although it is natural to experience cognitive decline as we age, there are still activities that we can participate in that can help keep us sharper for longer, such as:

Brain Engaging Activities

  • Puzzles
  • Discussion groups, reading and using the computer.
  • Playing card games, board games, and musical instruments.
  • Careers that involve high complexity
  • High education attainment

Physical Activities

  • Exercise, especially that which improves cardiovascular health
  • Gardening
  • Dancing

Social Engagement

  • Travel, cultural events
  • Socializing with friends and family

  Loving Home Care LLC offers companionship as a part of our home care services! Our caregivers can be there to do activities, help with hobbies, share in conversation and spend quality time with your loved ones. Contact us at (802) 489-4927 or [email protected] to find a caregiver who would be a good fit for you and your loved one.

(Information sourced from NIH)