If you’ve noticed changes in your senior loved one’s behavior or physical appearance, it’s possible his or her emotional wellbeing is being compromised. To help you understand what to watch for, Westfield, NJ, elderly care experts discuss 5 of the top warning signs of emotional distress in the elderly.
1. Weight Loss
Though weight loss and lack of appetite can signal emotional distress in people of all ages, it is very common in the elderly. As people age, their appetites often naturally diminish, which may be the result of medication side effects, cardiovascular conditions or gastrointestinal disorders, or simply because they are not as active as they once were and don’t have a robust appetite as a result. Although the aforementioned reasons may not be the primary causes of your loved one’s emotional distress, they can still contribute to it. These factors, coupled with depression, loneliness, and anxiety, may lead to loss of appetite with subsequent weight loss.
2. Social Isolation
Another sign of emotional distress in the elderly is self-imposed social isolation. When this occurs, you may notice your loved one is less social, declines invitations, contributes less to conversations, and voices his or her desire to be alone. This type of behavior is especially concerning for seniors who are normally outgoing, social, and happy.
Sundowning refers to a phenomenon where elderly people are lucid during the day but become confused or disoriented when the sun goes down. This condition can occur in seniors with mental health issues, degenerative brain disorders, medication side effects, metabolic conditions, and cardiovascular disease. If you notice your loved one is becoming confused in the evening or night, talk to him or her during the day to determine if he or she is experiencing some sort of emotional distress.
Signs of aggression are common in seniors who have underlying emotional distress. This type of behavior is sometimes seen when a senior has just been relocated to a nursing home or is having difficulty adjusting to the help of a Westfield home caregiver. Aggressive behavior often comes as a response to being in an unfamiliar environment or accompanies dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, once the senior becomes acclimated to his or her new environment or circumstances, displays of aggressive behavior typically subside.
5. Poor Hygiene
Poor hygiene habits are also common in people experiencing emotional distress. Some seniors do not feel young, attractive, or even useful anymore, or they may feel lonely because their friends have passed on. When these life circumstances occur, your loved one may stop caring about his or her physical appearances and hygiene, which can result in oily hair, long fingernails, poor dental hygiene, body odor, and infrequent bathing. Gentle reminders to work on hygiene habits may be helpful in restoring more effective daily routines.
Let the caregivers at Home Care Assistance give your loved one a strong shoulder to lean on. We are a leading provider of Parkinson’s, stroke, and Alzheimer’s care Westfield families trust, and our caregivers are trained to provide the companionship seniors need to remain emotionally well. For more information, please call one of our friendly Care Managers at 908.450.9400 today.