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5 Tests to Assess Aging Issues
Here at Visiting Nurse Association of Northern New Jersey (VNA), one of the most frequent questions we get from families is, “How do I know when home care is the right choice?”
In June of 2021, there was an excellent article in AARP by Barbara Stepko, titled How to Assess When an Older Adult Requires Caregiving Assistance. Following is a short recap of the article, but we recommend clicking on the link to read the entire piece.
Often, age-related changes happen gradually. The article suggests these simple tests to help evaluate the ability of someone to safely age in place (at home).
Mobility: Mark a line about 10 feet from a chair. Ask your loved one to stand up from the chair, walk at a normal pace forward to the line, turn, walk back to the chair, and sit down. On average, people who take 12 seconds or more to complete the test are at a high risk of falling, which happens to one in four elderly people. If mobility is an issue, physical therapy by VNA and home safety measures may help to avoid a life-altering fall.
Mental Health: Everyone feels down sometimes, but for the elderly, changes in attitude and behavior may indicate more serious health concerns. Take note of changes in energy level, irritability, anger, difficulty sleeping or staying awake, and loss of appetite. This may be treatable depression. Difficulties with basic activities like cooking, bathing, driving, and managing finances and medications may indicate a more serious problem that requires VNA assistance.
Money Management: Watch for unusual money transactions and stacks of unopened mail and unpaid bills. Helping to manage finances may be all that is needed, but trouble keeping up with money management may indicate a more serious cognitive decline, requiring more proactive home care services.
Driving: The article points out that seniors are outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of seven to 10 years, according to AAA (American Automobile Association). Multiple accidents or tickets, even minor ones, indicate a potentially dangerous situation for your loved one. This may be an early and more obvious indication of a cognitive problem or vision difficulty and time for a medical evaluation.
Changes in Appearance: Has your loved one gained or lost a significant amount of weight? Are they neglecting personal care and cleanliness? These problems may be improved with home care services or may indicate more serious issues like depression and dementia.
The most important thing is to pay attention to your loved ones, note their ability to cope with aging at home, make a care plan, and act early before a fall or health decline seriously impacts their quality of life. Learn more about the services available to you at: VNANNJ.com
Medicare and supplemental insurance often do not cover all the end-of-life care our hospice patients and caregivers need. If you would like to help, please call 1-800-WE VISIT (1-800-938-4748) or visit our Donation page.
The Visiting Nurse Association of Northern New Jersey (VNA) is a leading provider of comprehensive home health care services in Morris, Hunterdon, Sussex, Warren, Somerset, and Passaic Counties in Northern New Jersey. Established in 1898, generations have known that just one call to VNA opens the door to quality, patient-centered home health care solutions that allow patients to remain in the comfort of their homes with dignity, health, and independence.
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