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Early signs and communication tools to care for aging adults with cognitive and mood disorders

More than 20 percent of adults aged 60 and older suffer from a mental or neurological disorder. The most common disorders are dementia, depression and anxiety which affect between four-and-seven percent of the world’s aging population.

Caring for aging adults who suffer from these disorders, or who face high risk for developing one, requires a specific set of skills and tools including compassion and positivity.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates only half of older adults who acknowledge mental health problems receive treatment from a health care provider, and only a fraction of those receive specialty mental health services.

Home caregivers are in a unique position to monitor the mood and behavior of seniors to recognize when treatment is needed.

When our caregivers provide care to an individual with a mental or neurological disorder, we ensure they are trained in our memory care program, which aims to provide aging adults with a purposeful life. It teaches caregivers to patiently engage aging adults in daily activities to create joy and a feeling of accomplishment.

All of our caregivers are trained to weekly look for warning signs of depression, anxiety and dementia, which include:

  • Change in mood
  • Change in behavior
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in response to caregivers and loved ones
  • Change in routine
  • Confusion
  • Forgetfulness

If our caregivers observe any of these behaviors for more than ten days, they coordinate with nurses and care coordinators to recommend next steps to families. “One of the difficult aspects in treating mental illnesses in aging adults,” adds community nurse manager, Camala Mueller, RN, “is a family’s willingness to accept the illness and seek treatment. It is common amongst many adult children to believe all memory and mood changes are a natural part of aging.” Open Arms caregivers prioritize their role as an advocate for aging adults and encourage treatment when needed.

To find a home care agency that goes above and beyond to provide specialized care to aging adults with cognitive and mood disorders, visit, our Facebook page or call (847) 272-4997.

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