How to Care for Aging Parents with Functional Decline

Caring for Elderly Parents

October 14, 2021
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Functional decline is often related to aging. Its progression depends on the complete health of an individual, no matter what age. Functional decline is common among elderly patients when coupled with chronic illness. There are ways to live a fulfilling life once you identify your symptoms and seek remedies.

What is functional decline?

Functional decline occurs when an individual loses their ability to care for themselves or take part in activities of daily living (ADL). It impacts older adults with deteriorating health issues. Functional decline can cause various symptoms such as:

  • Loss of vision
  • Impaired hearing
  • Loss of balance
  • Cognition issues like memory loss, lack of judgement, or altered perception of situations
  • Feeling physically weak 

Causes of Functional Decline in Seniors

There are many factors that contribute to functional decline in older adults, not only internal health problems. External factors that lead to stress and anxious thoughts are very relevant. Examples include lack of social support, financial issues, or poor living environment. If you are struggling with your daily life due to loneliness or constant worry, your health will ultimately decline. 

What are the causes of functional decline?

Both external and internal factors cause functional decline such as:

  • Lack of social support
  • Financial issues
  • Poor living conditions
  • Underlying medical concerns
  • Poor mental health
  • Sudden changes in physique due to an accident or sudden illness

Internal factors like underlying medical concerns or poor mental health can also cause functional decline. To cope with functional decline, experts recommend 3 steps.

  1. Define your symptoms
  2. Write down all the ways that your symptoms affect your daily life
  3. Seek the appropriate coping mechanisms

How can I help my elderly parents who have functional decline?

Seeing your elderly parents living with functional decline is hard. They may have trouble doing a lot of household tasks, become unable to take care of themselves, or experience constant pain. Your ultimate goal is to improve their capacity and alleviate any pressure. 

5 Ways You Can Help Your Aging Parents Live Comfortably At Home

1. Reduce the number of demands 

Stress less by limiting the number of decisions your loved one needs to make. Thinking about the various combinations or solutions to a simple issue can cause unneeded stress. Or worse, it can lead to frustration if a wrong decision is made. Opt for meal delivery plans, hiring a live-in companion to help with activities of daily living, or establish a weekly routine for outings.

2.  Stick to the same activities

Keep a regular routine and stick to it. Discipline is key for maintaining your mental and physical health. Studies have found that the more days off patients have, the worse their  functionality is. 

3. Shift your focus to improving quality of life

Quality of life is much more valuable than longevity. Shift your mindset and find out how you can make their days more enjoyable, rather than worrying too far into the future. Simple additions like daily exercise, adding nutritional supplements, or purchasing prosthetic devices can help improve quality of life.

4. Consider hiring help

Don’t stretch yourself thin—hire help when you need it. There are options for hiring services for seniors at home for

  • Meal preparation 
  • Grocery delivery
  • Financial management
  • Medication management
  • Housekeeping duties
  • Bathing, dressing and other activities of daily living

5. Consider all the solutions

Functional decline is a complex issue and should be treated like one. Just like one medicine cannot remedy all your symptoms, ask different trusted health experts for advice. You can seek advice from professionals in all fields like

  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Pharmacist
  • Nutritionist 

Not sure where to start? Caremada offers a wide selection of service providers in different areas of care ranging from companionship to health and wellness workers. Find help near you when you need it, and start living better. 


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