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Warning Signs for Seniors

Aging comes with challenges, but helping elderly family members stay active can improve their physical and mental health as they age. Walking, sharing memories, and spending time with others are great places to start.

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Signs of Declining Health in Aging Adults

As a family caregiver, how can you tell if your loved one is in trouble? According to geriatrician and researcher Stephanie Studenski, M.D., M.P.H., seniors becoming weak or frail is usually the result of problems with various systems of the body. A number of conditions—from a heart attack or stroke to falls and weight loss—can result in frailty. Here are some of the warning signs that an elderly person is becoming frail.

Change. Mom has always been interested in talking to the neighbors, reading the newspaper, or volunteering but is withdrawing from those interests. Suggest she see her doctor.

Inactivity. Dad is suddenly much less active than usual. Spend some time with him to investigate possible causes.

Slowing down. Grandpa always used to have a bounce in his step. Now, suddenly, he trudges along. That's a bad sign and needs to be addressed.

Loss of appetite and weight. Grandma enjoyed cooking and always had a healthy appetite, but she seems to have lost interest in food. You're right to be concerned.

Unsteadiness. Loss of balance comes with aging but Mom's increasing unsteadiness is a sign that something could be wrong.

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Download a PDF version of the Get Mom Moving Activity Calendar (PDF 350 kB)

Last revised: March 2, 2011

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. September 28, 2020 at 5:10 pm | Posted by Carl Pickle

    I'm 70 and have three children. One of those children calls me every day and wants me at her house constantly. Of course I don't do that but the other two almost never call or text. I don't have any answers about why one of three behave as if I weren't dead.


    • December 17, 2020 at 7:22 pm | Posted by Amanda

      HI Carl, I am one of 3 siblings who has more often been in my fathers life. I know my others siblings care for my father, but they have busy lives, 4 kids for one, and jobs that all take up a lot of time. The other piece is each of our relationships are vastly different. Past conflicts for them have not been resolved. My father and I have taken a lot of time to talk, to be angry, and work through things of the past, that I feel let me be there for him now. I can't speak for others and why they keep their distance. I have noticed sometimes adult children also are not ready to acknowledge their parent may not always be around. At 30 I realized this and since have made my parents a priority. I know this is now what everyone will do. I hope you talk with your kids and express that you want them around.


  2. March 21, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Posted by J. Walters

    The hardest part and least admitted is the loneliness from lack of family acknowledgement. Where our generation was well aware of taking care of our aged parents today the grown children would rather ignore putting effort out to help care for the aging parent. We all have worked in one way or another and raised families and though so many things are much more easier, like auto dishwashers, clothes washers & driers, throw away diapers all I hear are complaints how over worked they are and have no time for family. We made time. It wasn't a gimme. We had more work. So education in this area "might" help elevate the desperate need to pay for out of family help as I and many over 60 do. My Father told me before he passed away, "Honey, it isn't the aches and pains that hurt the most, it's the loneliness" he's was right. It is. Thank you for listening. (dealing with RA, Crohns Osteo and more)


    • August 20, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Posted by Hope Lothridge

      Yes it is the loneliness that hurts.I am 75 and feel abandoned by friends and family. My only happiness are my rescue animals.God bless them.


    • September 28, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Posted by Carl Pickle

      Exactly my situation also except for one of three daughters. God bless you.


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