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How to Help Seniors Manage Autism

By Carol White, 9:00 am on

The diagnosis and widespread public awareness of autism have only occurred within the past few decades. The current focus is still on identifying and treating autism in children, so there is little research and information regarding autism in the elderly. In many cases, seniors may never have received a formal diagnosis and may not even know they have autism.

Autism may be one of the many health conditions to affect your loved one’s quality of life. Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust in Prescott, AZ, elder care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life. Here’s what you need to know about managing autism in seniors.

Understanding Autism

Autism is the term used to describe a spectrum of disorders that affect the way a person perceives the world and interacts and communicates with others. A senior with autism may have difficulty recognizing subtle nuances of language, such as irony and sarcasm, and fail to read body language and other nonverbal cues. Noisy surroundings and changes in routines can be distressing to a person with autism. When agitated, an autistic person may engage in repetitive movements or rituals to manage his or her condition.

Autism and Aging

Most seniors with autism develop a variety of skills for managing their condition and are typically intelligent. As cognition diminishes with age, the mechanisms that worked for so many years may no longer be sufficient. For example, a comfortable routine and controlled environment may lead to a situation where the senior has to rely on others for everything and has little say in his or her daily activities and surroundings.

According to a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente, seniors with autism are twice as likely to experience depression and anxiety as those without autism. Although the reason is not clear, autistic seniors are more likely to develop a variety of health conditions, ranging from cardiovascular and metabolic disorders to impaired vision and hearing.

Caring for Autistic Seniors

Since little is known about autism in aging adults, many family caregivers are not experienced in addressing the special needs of these seniors. However, there are ways you can help your loved one manage his or her condition:

  • A structured routine with familiar caregivers is essential for autistic seniors. Since individuals with autism can become agitated or confused when overstimulated, it is best to keep the environment as calm and quiet as possible.
  • Although individuals with autism may have difficulty with social interactions, it is still important to provide your loved one with opportunities to socialize with others. When possible, try to tailor the activities and settings to accommodate his or her unique needs. For example, intimate settings involving a limited number of people are generally preferred.
  • While there is no cure for autism, sensory and motor interventions and behavioral therapy can help individuals with autism develop communication, social, and life skills. These treatment methods are primarily used with children, but they may also have some benefits for older adults.
  • Local support groups can be a valuable source of information and resources for both you and your loved one.

For seniors living in Prescott, AZ, hourly care can be a wonderful solution when they need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home.

Like autism, Alzheimer’s disease can lead to cognitive decline. Professional in-home care can help seniors enhance their cognitive health. In Prescott, AZ, Alzheimer’s care experts are trained in methods that are designed to slow cognitive decline in the elderly. Using a revolutionary program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, Alzheimer’s caregivers keep seniors mentally engaged with exciting activities so they can maintain better cognitive health in the golden years. If you need help looking after your aging loved one with autism, call us at 928-771-0105 today.

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