An increase in the number of elderly living on their own or in elder care settings creates a growing need for crisis interventions to protect seniors from physical injuries, illnesses and mental and social isolation. As baby boomers hit retirement age and beyond—and medical innovations prolong life expectancy—elderly populations are growing. Because of this, there’s an even greater need for elderly interventions.
In fact, the population of individuals over 80 is expected to triple between 2011 and 2013. Interventions are actions, devices, and treatments family members and professional care teams can provide the elderly to reduce the chance of issues.
Failing Bodies and Minds
Even the healthiest individuals contend with failing bodies and minds in old age. The American Psychological Association reports that common physical changes in old age include hearing and visual impairment, reduced response times, inability to complete activities of daily living and increases in heart disease, cancer and other critical conditions.
Mental changes may include memory struggles, reduced cognitive understanding and increased time to perform daily mental operations. All of these changes often result in a requirement for additional care or a family intervention from an elderly person’s social or professional healthcare circle.
Many elderly individuals are able to live on their own or in minimal care situations, but they still suffer from both the physical and mental limitations of an aging body. Frailer bodies are more susceptible to injury, and older individuals may lack dexterity, balance or range of motion that minimize fall risks.
The CDC reports that 2.4 million older individuals sought treatment for nonfatal falls in 2012 and many falls go unreported. Waning mental acuity also makes it easy to forgot things such as medications or meals, and lack of mobility can result in lengthy isolation from friends, family or outside contact.
Experts are increasingly recommending an intervention approach to elder care. Physical activity interventions, including exercise in the home or within a group environment, has been shown to increase core strength and balance for many older individuals, which reduces the risk of falls.
Other types of elderly interventions that address fall and injury risks include safety devices, such as bath bars and seats or walkers or canes. Exercise regimes and device use should be overseen by occupational or physical therapists for best results.
Non-Physical Intervention Issues
Interventions for the elderly are also recommended for nonphysical issues; one-on-one and group interventions can help minimize isolation and loneliness, conditions that can lead to depression and other mental health issues.
Befriending an elderly individual by visiting regularly, participating in events or activities together or sending cards and other mail is one form of social intervention. Group interventions may come from a professional intervention services provider or community organizations that involve seniors in shopping, crafting, gaming or other activities.
Whether capable of living on their own or not, elderly citizens remain at a higher risk for certain mental and physical ailments. Interventions are a way loved ones and care providers can ensure the best possible quality of life in later years. Working with professional interventionists to deliver interventions usually provides the safest and most satisfactory outcome.