In my previous post, I talked about medications that often send seniors to the hospital. Such issues are often related to the person having too much (or too little) of the medication, perhaps through poor medication management.
But, as we all know, health issues can occur regardless of how well a person looks after themselves. As seniors age, the risk of health problems increases as well.
This means that seniors and caregivers need to watch out for significant changes, especially ones that can suggest a serious problem.
The challenge is – the symptoms aren’t always obvious.
Instead, it’s easy to assume that they’re ‘a natural part of aging’ or that they will go away with time. Some seniors will also tend to ignore symptoms and pretend they’re not happening. In part, this can happen because they are afraid of losing control of their life. Some may also feel that too many issues increase the chance that they will have to leave their home.
There are many different conditions and symptoms out there, some that are more common than others. So, in this post, I’m going to cover some of the most common symptoms that are easily missed or ignored.
To a degree, forgetfulness is a part of aging.
Memory is also a very individual process. Some people seem to be able to remember anything and everything, while others may consistently struggle with some types of memory.
After all, who hasn’t forgotten a bag of groceries in the car or left their keys at home?
How do you know what is normal and what isn’t?
One indication is change. If the amount your family member can remember dramatically changes, it could be a symptom of an underlying problem.
Another indication is frequency. Forgetting things from time to time is normal. But, people with early symptoms of dementia tend to frequently forget things. This will often include entire events and plans, rather than small details.
The site HelpGuide offers additional insight into age-related memory loss. Their article includes ways to distinguish between regular forgetfulness and symptoms of a cognitive issue.
Dizziness or Lightheadedness
Many of us feel dizzy or lightheaded from time-to-time. This could be something as simple as getting up from a chair too fast or spending too long in the sun.
But, when these symptoms become regular, they may be an indication of a more serious problem.
For example, poor blood sugar control or low blood pressure are both issues that can contribute to dizziness. The site Senior Magazine Online offers some insight into what the symptoms can mean.
Bruising or Bleeding
We all bruise and bleed when we get hurt. But, many seniors may experience increased levels of bruising, often from relatively minor events.
This is an incredibly easy issue to overlook. In some cases, seniors may put it down to simply being clumsy or to aging. And indeed, increased bruising can occur with age, especially for women.
Some medications will also cause this side effect.
But, easy bruising or increased bleeding can be an indication of a more serious problem too.
For example, an increase in bruising may be an indication that the medication dose is wrong and could put the senior at risk. It could also indicate an interaction, such as between medication and an herbal supplement.
These issues are often an unavoidable side effect of medication. But, if you see a change in the level of bruising or bleeding, it’s important to talk to a doctor.
Significant Mood Changes
Humans tend to be emotional creatures and our moods are far from predictable. We all have some days where we are simply irrational or frustrating to be around.
At the same time, emotions frequently have an underlying cause. So, a senior might be upset because they feel like they’re losing control or because of a specific event.
As a result, it’s best to think about the person and events first.
If there is nothing obvious contributing to mood or personality changes, then they may be an indication of medical condition. For example, early symptoms of dementia often include personality changes. Likewise, depression and anxiety can both contribute to changes in the way a person feels and acts.
Once again, talking to a doctor is an important step in figuring out what the issue is.
Being sensitive is also important. People often react poorly to the idea that their personality or mood is dramatically different, especially if they don’t see the pattern. If changes in mood or personality are the result of a cognitive problem, then they may also be paranoid or have related symptoms.
As such, treading carefully is critical.
There are many other symptoms out there and countless related conditions.
One of the most important indications is simply change. If a person has experienced an issue all of their life, it probably isn’t something to worry about. But, if it has been only occurring in the past few months, there is probably an underlying reason.
You can also keep an eye out for possible factors that cause the issues.
For example, vitamin deficiencies often come with various symptoms. Doctors can easily test for these. You may also be able to work out if there is likely to be a deficiency by considering your family member’s diet.