The Causes of Functional Decline in the Elderly: Symptoms and Treatment

The functional decline becomes inevitable around your forties and fifties, building up little by little each year. Throughout your forties and fifties, it creeps up slowly, but once you reach your sixties, it becomes more rapid.

What Is Functional Decline in the Elderly?

Functional decline in the elderly is usually defined and measured by the reduced capacity to conduct self-care activities of daily living (ADL) due to a gradual decrease in cognitive or physical functioning.

One of the unfortunate things concerning functional decline in the elderly is that since it’s a slow build-up, it goes unnoticed more often than not. As a result, seniors who require specific assistance from facility living, family caregivers, or in-home elderly care do not get the support they need early enough.

What Causes Functional Decline?

Older adults usually develop functional decline when they are hospitalized due to some medical illness. It can also be caused by other parameters related to hospitalization, such as reduced physical activity, extended bed rest, and inappropriate use of devices that restrict their mobility, such as intravenous lines and indwelling catheters. Also See: Resuming a Normal Life After Your Surgery with In-Home Care Service

Know the Signs of Functional Decline

You need to know the main signs/symptoms of functional decline and that it can be both physical and cognitive.

Here are some major signs of physical functional decline:

  • Limited mobility
  • Poor coordination
  • Frail/lack of strength
  • Change in posture/gait
  • Limited stamina
  • Exhaustion
  • Signs of injury
  • Pain/soreness

Signs of cognitive functional decline:

  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Speech is off/confusing
  • Anxiety
  • Poor self-care
  • Poor housekeeping
  • Unexplainable/odd behavior
  • Drastic change in financial habits

Monitor Your Loved One for Signs

People often miss the signs of functional decline in their loved ones because they don’t know exactly what to look for. To prevent this from happening, if you have an older adult in your home, you should make a conscious effort to track and monitor the changes in their functional abilities. Read more: How to Take Care of Your Aging Parents at Home

One of the most straightforward strategies is to note the things your loved one has difficulty with over a week or month. The main advantage of this approach is it helps you compare the functioning of your loved one over time.

Having conversations with them is also a great way to detect a functional decline. For best results, each family member can converse with them at different times because each may spot a different symptom of functional decline.


If you want to determine whether your loved one is going through a functional decline or wish to know more about elderly care options, Newport Home Care can help you. We have specially trained staff who can take care of your loved one, which can include in-home elderly care.  We’re here to help guide you with the right care option for them.

Aging Parents

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Newport Home Care

Newport Home Care, based in Orange County, California is dedicated to serve senior citizens and take care of their well-being. We provide the best home care solutions in the Orange County and Greater Los Angeles region. We are compassionate towards our clients and serve them with integrity and dignity. We serve patients with– diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, lupus, post surgery recovery, parkinson’s, Alzheimer and dementia. All of our staff or “caregivers”, are certified personal care assistants. We ensure only the best quality service to our clients.

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