Open Accessibility Menu

Recognizing Signs of Physical and Mental Decline in Seniors

I love holidays and gathering with family and friends to celebrate! However, this year, I noticed that one of my elderly relatives was not her usual bubbly self. She seemed rather withdrawn and did not participate in conversations as much as she used to. In addition, she was using an ambulatory device for stability while walking, which I recognized as signs of physical and mental decline.

Now that we have successfully navigated the holidays, I’ve been thinking about my great-aunt and the level of decline she demonstrated at our family celebrations. While we can all expect to experience some areas of decline with aging, there are more serious issues in play when physical and cognitive functions diminish more significantly.

According to the Memory & Aging Center at the University of California San Francisco, “Normal age-related declines are subtle and mostly affect thinking speed and attention. In abnormal aging, declines in cognition are more severe and may include other thinking abilities, such as rapid forgetting or difficulties navigating, solving common problems, expressing oneself in conversation or behaving outside of social rules. Abnormal aging can also include the motor system resulting in excessive tripping, falls, or tremors. Often it is difficult to determine exactly when a person should be concerned with cognitive changes they may be experiencing. Symptoms vary from person to person – what is normal for one person may not be normal for another.”

Watch for Symptoms of Cognitive Decline

  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Repetitive questions
  • Odd or inappropriate behaviors
  • Forgetfulness of recent events
  • Repeated falls or loss of balance
  • Personality changes
  • Decline in planning and organization
  • Changes in diet/eating habits
  • Changes in hygiene
  • Increased apathy
  • Changes in language abilities, including comprehension

Risk Factors for Cognitive Decline

There are several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of dementia. Research suggests approximately 50% of Alzheimer’s disease cases may be related to these modifiable risk factors:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Midlife obesity
  • Smoking
  • Depression
  • Little or no mental activity
  • Little or no physical exercise

Maintain a Healthy Brain

Research suggests that the combination of good nutrition, physical activity, and mental and social engagement may provide benefits in promoting brain health.

  • Stay away from smoking
  • Exercise at a moderately high level of physical activity
  • Get routine medical care
  • Build social support networks
  • Keep doing the activities that challenge you and you enjoy
  • Maintain a healthy diet

If, like me, you recognize signs of physical constraints or any of the symptoms of cognitive decline in your senior loved ones, please do not hesitate to have a gentle discussion with them and encourage them to see their doctor for a professional evaluation.

At Home Helpers MetroWest, I am proud to employ compassionate caregivers to help with in-home care services for seniors in need, many of whom are certified in Alzheimer’s and dementia care through the National Certification Board for Alzheimer’s Care (NCBAC).

Please take advantage of my no-obligation, FREE Consultation so I can assess specific ways our highly trained caregivers can make life easier for you or a special senior you love.

Home Helpers® MetroWest proudly serves male and female seniors in Concord, Farmingham, Lincoln, Marlborough, Natick, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayland, Weston, and surrounding areas. We are Making Life Easier℠ in our Massachusetts communities every day! 508-545-0164


Memory & Aging Center