Oftentimes, aging is usually associated with progressive functional loss across manifold systems, including cognition, motor control, sensation, affect, and memory. The traditional perspective is that functional loss in inadvertent since it is the result of wearing down of brain machinery over time. However, lately, a new alternative point of view has emerged that elaborates this traditional perspective of age-related functional loss. This new perspective is predicated upon many years of research in experimental psychology and neuroscience which provide that as people age, their brain plasticity processes yield negative results in the quality of life and independence of the elderly. A downward spiral of psychological and physical function amongst the elderly is common. They lose their mobility to making them lead a more isolated and limited life, loss of walking ability, balance and strength coupled with decrease in physical functions may limit their independence. Most of the elderly people live sedentary lifestyles. This may lead to innumerable health complications, especially declining psychological and physical health. This has the effect of reducing the quality of their life. Consequently, the elderly experience a decline in the quality of lives they have. They lose autonomy due to the unfortunate downward spiral. The purpose of this essay is to delve into effect of functional loss vis-à-vis downward spiral in the life of an elderly person. This paper will attempt to examine the effect of functional loss upon the quality of life and independence of elderly people.
Functional loss leads to downward spiral in the life of an elderly person by affecting their quality of life and independence. The downward spiral begins with decreased brain activity because of behavioral change. The brain machinery changes with time. Age-related functional loss is very common. Most old people are usually functionally impaired. For this reason, they need social services and good health care. In the recent past, the number of people beyond the age of 65 years has been increasing. Life prolongation may have far-reaching consequences for not only the elderly but also their families, social services, as well as health care providers. Declined mortality has not been accompanied by declined morbidity. Therefore, most elderly people are particularly vulnerable. They also risk being economically and socially vulnerable due to extensive care services. The elderly, because of the downward spiral, become functionally disabled. This is because they cannot lead a normal and independent lifestyle without of assistance. The occasional acute illnesses and other life-threatening diseases affect the elderly. This affects the quality of their lives (Calhoun, 2013).
Even elderly people who are functionally fit experience somber health problems. They become impaired upon their daily activities. While they may be functionally fit, their health is considerably average. This makes their social lives passive. Socializing with friends and attending concerts becomes virtually impossible. Some experience pain on their hips while walking. Making short errands becomes a luxury. Some may have to be hospitalized due to blocked arteries within their legs. This downward spiral affects their independence, as they have to be placed under caretakers or some other social services for assistance. Difficulties in walking adversely affect their daily routine. By adversely affecting their social activities, functional loss reduces the quality of life. Indisputably, a difficulty in mobility hinders their economic and social lives. For instance, instead of walking to their friends’ homes, shops, and stores they drive. They lose their independence. Most disastrous is the constant worry about their health (Maddox & Springer Publishing Company, 1995). This yields stress that reduces their quality of life. Due to the downward spiral, the elderly experience occasional blackouts. For instance, some may suffer from atypical angina that makes them feel like stuffed dolls. They can even faint. Of course, this reduces their autonomy. Assistance is inevitable. Without this, most cannot do anything. Due to less energy, they require adjustments in their lives.
Functional loss begins with a downward spiral in the elderly people by limiting the activities they engage in. As opposed to the few functionally active people, most suffer from a loss of function. Functional problems can be traced to the chronic conditions as opposed to life-threatening diseases. Most elderly people complain of painful joints, aches, flu, pain, memory loss, fatigue, hip problems, and arthritis. The fact that most require helpers indicates a loss of independence. Some of them even forget about injuries. They remained impaired on their daily activities which may translate to a decline in their quality of life. As earlier mentioned, most elderly people turn to welfare services and social care for support. They require social, psychological, and financial support. Very often some cannot even cook. They require the help of their daughters for financial assistance and other domestic chores. Some elderly people are disabled to the point of wishing death. The downward spiral is also contributed by cognitive problems. The unmarried and childless have more problems since they have no one to take care of them. According to geriatricians, cascade effects occur whenever disease conditions together with their iatrogenic effects of their treatment lead to a disastrous downward spiral to the status of the elderly (Thorson, 2000). Interactions between psychological, social, and physical problems lead to either death or even institutionalization. Declining functioning, energy loss, and pain lower their ability to socialize. This leads to a declining social world. Towards the end, problems become more compound leading to anxiety and depression. Others experience decline in cognitive capacity that leads to a declined social competence. They feel helpless and hopeless. Most elderly develop complications when they fall. Some become anxious when no helper is around to help them keep track of their medications. As mentioned earlier on, this represents a downward spiral often punctuated by loss of autonomy and a declining quality of life.
The elderly require to be called on a daily basis, coupled with weekly feeling of appreciation. Physical therapy also comes in handy to ensure that they do not suffer from functional loss. In their nineties and eighties, death becomes imminent. Successful adapters realize their mortally and consider the merits of long-term survivorship. Outliving normal worries regarding their health, the elderly can devise ways to survive even longer. Some overcome pneumonia, stroke as well as other illnesses by averting the adverse effects of downward spiral. A decline in health makes elderly people incapacitated. Upon reaching 100 years, the elderly think about death (Calhoun, 2013). Due to impressive social and physical losses, the elderly become particularly vulnerable even to ostensibly unimportant events such as a fall. A mere fall can culminate to not only hospitalization, but also to limitations on movement outside the homestead. Subsequently, this can lead to drastic lifestyle changes. Additionally, overmedication problems can culminate to temporary dementia and an irreversible diagnosis. Eviction from their long-term residence leads to unnecessary institutionalization and social isolation. Most of the elderly people have trouble in managing their own households as well as executing their everyday maintenance tasks. For these reasons, it may become necessary to receive round-the-clock care. Those who cannot handle personal care are often institutionalized to help them receive care services. Such downward spiral means that the elderly people may require special transportation, meal on wheels, friendly visitors, etc (Schaie & Pietrucha, 2000).
In conclusion, the functional losses that give rise to a downward spiral in the life of the elderly people with the effect of adversely affecting their independence as well as their quality of life require special attention. It is important to sensitize them about social care systems to ensure that they do not become irreversibly vulnerable. Moreover, this essay has demonstrated that the elderly require other parallel programs to help them overcome challenges that arise due to old age. They require support. In order to take care of their declining health, a downward spiral accruing from resource-loss, especially in multiple domains is disastrous. Due to loss of reserve-capacities, the elderly have to be compensated fully of particular resource losses through social welfare and care systems to ensure they do not become frail and vulnerable. Indisputably, downward spirals associated with loss of self-management abilities as well as external resources. It leads to loss of their independence and they may require placement in a nursing home. However, it is easy to overcome these downward spirals through comprehensive treatment and early intervention.
Calhoun, D. (2013). Handbook of activities for the elderly. Mustamg, Oklahoma: Tate Publishing & Enterprises.
Maddox, G. L., & Springer Publishing Company. (1995). The encyclopedia of aging: A comprehensive resource in gerontology and geriatrics. New York: Springer Pub. Co.
Schaie, K. W., & Pietrucha, M. (2000). Mobility and transportation in the elderly. New York: Springer Pub.
Thorson, J. A. (2000). Aging in a changing society. Philadelphia: Brunner/Mazel