There are so many STAGES to aging. As a loved one ages, they experience gradual or rapid changes, which apply to both physical and cognitive. Seniors are great at hiding their problems, so being involved is critical to avoid missing the signs. Understanding the five stages people experience may alert family and friends to evaluate which resources to bring in.
Stage 1 – Self-sufficiency
Your aging loved one is entirely self-sufficient. They can physically get things done and handle their daily activities, including mail and money. At this point, it is an excellent time to evaluate their finances and look into insurance policies with a Financial Advisor to ensure they have enough funds to pay for future care and needs. They also should address all their legal documents by consulting an estate planning attorney to set up a Will, Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney and possible trust.
Stage 2 – Interdependence
This is a gradual decline, where a senior needs help from family and friends. The home might need some modifications to make it safer, such as grab bars, railings, or a shower chair. They may want to consult a Geriatric Care Coordinator for guidance. They might need help with driving or meal prep, and they may need to hire a bookkeeper to help manage their finances. Discussions may occur to see if the person should stay home or move into an independent senior housing facility, which creates challenges since they feel like they are losing their independence, resulting in depression, stress, or anxiety. All of these feelings are normal. Because this is a difficult season, the person may not express their feelings. Patience and awareness are essential as they go through this.
Stage 3 – Dependency
A senior can no longer safely live independently. They show a cognitive or physical decline and need help with their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IACLs). During this stage, people need to evaluate a person’s living situation. Does more care need to be added? Should the person hire a fiduciary? The dependency stage is stressful for everyone. Seniors feel a loss of independence and become stressed and confused, while loved ones are upset, witnessing the decline.
Stage 4 – Crisis Management
This is when 24-hour care is needed. This STAGE can occur suddenly and un-expectantly (somebody has a fall, a heart attack, or an aneurysm), or it may be an anticipated transition (ALS, cancer, renal failure, etc). At this stage, a person may need to live in a residential care facility or increase care, such as a private duty nurse.
Stage 5 – End of life
The medical professionals advise the final days are close. The person has reached maximum medical prevention, and the body is slowly transitioning. At this point, hospice steps in, and the goal is to make the person feel comfortable versus receiving life-saving treatment. When this STAGE occurs, the decisions are complicated and emotional for family and friends. Support groups and therapists are vital during this grieving process.
There are many stages to aging, and it can be overwhelming, yet help is available for each stage. You are not alone; let STAGES be your starting point.