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Decreased Strength and Mobility a Sign That Seniors May Need Assistance

Decreased strength and mobility are unwanted signs of aging. But these issues don't have to cost an older adult his or her independence, or force a move from home.

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Decreased strength and mobility are unwanted signs of aging. But these issues don't have to cost an older adult his or her independence, or force a move from home. Help is available to ensure that seniors can be safe wherever they are in spite of their limitations.

Q. I've noticed that my 82-year-old mother does not have the strength and stamina she once did. Nor does she have the mobility and dexterity she enjoyed in her younger years. Are these signs that she shouldn't be living alone and what other things should I be looking for?

Your mother may be experiencing what many older adults encounter as they age. But, depending on her situation, she could still manage very well at home, perhaps with a little help. The first thing you should encourage your mom to do is get a complete physical. Her doctor can tell whether her symptoms are caused by a physical problem or the result of aging issues. A physician also could recommend medical and lifestyle changes that would help improve strength and stamina.

To help answer your questions and address your concerns, observe your mom's surroundings. Look for signs that it's becoming more difficult for your mother to manage her home:

  • Has food spoiled in the refrigerator?
  • Is your mom eating more junk food? Is she losing weight?
  • Are dust and grime accumulating on furniture and countertops?
  • Is she unable to change light bulbs?
  • Are there a lot of spills on the floors and rugs?
  • Are papers and magazines piling up?
  • Is your mom neglecting her personal appearance and hygiene?

If you can answer yes to any or all of these questions, your mother may, in fact, be having some trouble caring for her home and herself. But that doesn't necessarily mean that she needs to leave her home. Have a frank discussion with your mother and encourage her to be honest about her needs. Assure her that you will make every effort to help her stay at home.

But also point out that the only way she may be able to stay at home is with assistance. Services are available that can make life easier for older adults at home. Most communities offer various in-home medical and non-medical options for older adults. Contact your area Agency on Aging for a complete list. One option is Home Instead®. The company hires CAREGiversSM who go into the homes of older adults to help them with household tasks that may be a challenge.

Home Instead's network of CAREGivers across North America, as well as locally, help keep seniors independent for as long as possible both in their homes and in facilities. And that's a goal most older adults as well as their families want to achieve.

In addition to companionship, some of the most requested services provided by CAREGivers include meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errands and shopping. A CAREGiver also could help your mom feel more secure in her home and give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing she's not alone.

Your mother is probably like most older adults. She will want to remain independent and in her home as long as possible. A companion will help ensure that she can do just that.

Last revised: April 4, 2011

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