All You Need to Know About Autism in the Elderly

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Autism in seniors presents a challenge for their caregivers. Many seniors who are currently living with autism may not have been diagnosed when they were younger because this disorder has only begun to be understood more deeply in recent years. For this reason, family caregivers are often the first to notice a senior may be on the autism spectrum. Whether they have been diagnosed or not, seniors with autism can benefit when caregivers understand their limitations and help them manage their condition better.

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elder care. Naples families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably. If your aging loved one has autism, here are a few things you need to bear in mind.

The Symptoms Can Vary

Many people lack information about what autism entails. Since autism occurs on a spectrum, the symptoms can vary among each individual who is affected. While some seniors may lack verbal communication skills, others may be adept at speaking yet be incapable of picking up on the finer nuances of language such as irony and sarcasm. Caregivers should learn how their senior loved ones respond to various situations so they can bring out their strengths and help them overcome their weaknesses.

Autistic Adults Tend to Be Highly Intelligent

Another misconception about autism is the idea that people with this condition have low IQs. Contrary to this belief, people with autism are often highly functional and have managed to find skills that have helped them adapt through the years. For seniors, however, some of these skills may start to wane due to other cognitive or physical impairments. When caregivers suddenly notice signs of autism in an undiagnosed senior they should mention it to the doctor because the senior may actually fall on the spectrum.

Coexisting Conditions May Cause Complications

Seniors with autism may have lived for a long time without their condition disrupting their lives. However, emotional health conditions such as depression and anxiety may start developing later in life and affect a senior’s ability to handle things such as socialization. It is also common for seniors with autism to have more physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease or vision impairment. Since seniors with verbal disabilities may have difficulty relaying their symptoms, caregivers should be alert of signs that a senior is managing coexisting conditions that also need to be treated.

Routines Ease Symptoms

Rigid thinking is one symptom of autism that caregivers may notice if a senior strays from his or her normal routine. For seniors with autism, doing the same things at the same time each day creates rituals that promote a sense of calm. While a strict schedule isn’t always possible, making sure a senior eats, sleeps, and bathes at the same time each day can help him or her feel a sense of order in the world. Sticking to a routine also helps ensure a senior’s needs are met no matter what part of the spectrum he or she falls on, and being well-fed and rested eases anxiety.

A senior with autism may display certain behavioral changes that are difficult to manage. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Naples, FL, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

According to various studies, autism and Alzheimer’s in seniors may be related. Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors to manage without assistance, and it can be just as challenging for families who do not have experience in providing Alzheimer’s care. For trusted Naples Alzheimer’s care, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to help seniors with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions live happier and healthier lives. Call one of our friendly Client Care Managers at (239) 449-4701 today to learn about our patent senior care program. 

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