Advancing in age brings about many changes, most of which will impact daily life in one way or another. The aging process is a natural part of life. But in some cases, elderly individuals may be experience a more distinct state of decline known as “Adult Failure to Thrive.” Failure to Thrive is not classified as a singular disease but instead refers to a manifestation of combined underlying physical, psychosocial, and/or mental conditions. Depending on the severity of decline, an individual who is afflicted with Failure to Thrive may require assistance with completing the essential Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). In-home care services can help seniors to complete the ADLs they need to remain safe and comfortable in a home, assisted living facility, or hospital.
Symptoms of Adult Failure to Thrive
Adult Failure to Thrive may manifest itself through a variety of different symptoms. Some of the more common of these revolve around nourishment. These symptoms can include (but are not always limited to), weight loss, a marked decrease in appetite and even difficulty in actually eating food itself. This can lead to poor nutritional intake which in turn can harm the individual in other ways.
Another hallmark of Failure to Thrive is a noticeable downturn of both the desire to perform normal daily functions and the energy needed to do them. This symptom can effect many aspects of normal life, which may include getting in/out of bed, maintaining personal hygiene, dressing, and other common daily tasks.
Difficulties with memory can also be very apparent in many cases of Failure to Thrive. As energy wanes from a lack of nutrition and motivation, it may become more difficult to remember even the most basic information. For some individuals remembering important appointments, when to take prescribed medication, and even just an inability to remember why they have walked into a specific room can be a constant source of frustration. Forgetting to take medication as prescribed and other lapses in memory may lead to other complications in the future.
Causes of Adult Failure to Thrive
Because the manifested symptoms seen with adult Failure to Thrive may be attributed to a number of different underlying conditions, figuring out what is specifically causing it can be a challenge. The two basic categories that aggravating conditions usually fall into are (1) physical or mental maladies or diseases and (2) a reaction to certain types of medications.
It is not uncommon for undiagnosed medical conditions to reside at the heart of an individual’s Failure to Thrive. Although a broad range of diseases could be the culprit, more common causes may include cancer, lung disease, cirrhosis, congestive heart failure, and diabetes. Other conditions such as clinical depression could also contribute to the emergence of adult Failure to Thrive.
Side Effects of Medications
There is some research that shows that medications can also contribute to the development of Failure to Thrive. This is due to the side effects of certain medications which can cause symptoms of Failure to Thrive to develop and/or worsen. For example, benzodiazepines can cause weight loss which is typically present in Failure to Thrive cases. The number of medications can also be a factor, as more medications increase the likelihood of the occurrence of certain adverse reactions. Having a physician assess an individual’s medication regimen is the best step in gauging the potential health risks.
Certain medical and mental tests can be given to someone with potential Failure to Thrive. Because there are so many possibilities that may be at the root, all bases need to be covered. Lab tests, like blood and urine analysis and imaging tests, can help target medical conditions, while a thorough mental exam helps the physician find out if depression may be the exacerbating factor. As hearing or sight changes can also lead to noticeable symptoms, tests for each are also usually conducted.
Helping Individuals With Failure to Thrive
Watching a loved one suffer from Failure to Thrive can be especially heartbreaking, the lack of understanding why it is happening can easily lead to a sense of frustration and helplessness. Fortunately, no matter what the underlying cause turns out to be, there are simple steps you can take to make sure things go as easily for your loved one as possible.
Exercise is one of the best ways to alleviate many of the symptoms seen in Failure to Thrive patients, especially those dealing with depression or food intake. Exercise forces the body to work harder and releases endorphins that can promote a sense of peace and well being in those who participate. As a Failure to Thrive patient is much older, be sure to consult a professional to develop a low-impact regimen that will not cause undo stress on a frail body.
Laughter and social contact are also some of the most effective ways to treat many aspects of adult Failure to Thrive. Many times, especially if the underlying condition is depression, the motivation and energy required to participate in a lot of social activities can be sorely lacking. By putting some thought into it, you can create a schedule of activities that caters specifically to your loved one’s needs. While a doctor may be best at treating physical symptoms, a caring person with a close relationship is best at knowing what activities your loved one can handle and enjoy.
Comfort Home Care is Ready to Support Your Loved One!
Failure to Thrive can be an extremely debilitating disorder which can significantly impact the life of the afflicted individual and their caregiver. However, families should know that they do not have to face Failure to Thrive on their own.
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Comfort Home Care’s compassionate in-home care services can go a long way toward ensuring that Failure to Thrive does not command you or your loved one’s life. To learn more about the benefits of our in-home care services, call us directly or contact us online to schedule a free in-home care consultation.