Understanding Autism in Seniors

By Matt Rogers, 9:00 am on

Autism is often thought of as a childhood condition since most autistic people are diagnosed when they are younger. However, autism is a lifelong condition that also impacts seniors, and it also poses several challenges for families providing senior care.

Although autism is a serious health condition, it is not the only risk older adults may face. 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. Pembroke Pines families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably. Families and caregivers should be aware of the signs of autism, along with the best strategies for ensuring the wellbeing of a senior living with this condition. Here’s what you need to know about autism in seniors.

It’s Possible to Get Diagnosed Later in Life

Awareness of autism did not occur until many of today’s seniors were already well into adulthood. Some may have been living with the condition for many years while being unaware they were on the spectrum. Families who suspect autism should consult a doctor and be prepared to make adjustments to their senior loved one’s routine if an autism diagnosis is given later in life.

Symptoms May Increase with Age

Since many seniors were not diagnosed early on, they developed strategies to mask their symptoms. While this might have helped them raise a family and enjoy a successful career, changing health conditions may make it harder for them to keep those strategies up. Caregivers should be alert for changes in their loved one’s behavior that require accommodations to help them continue to live a full life.

Coexisting Conditions Affect Care

Autism is associated with other physical and mental conditions that complicate how caregivers and physicians provide care. Health issues such as vision and hearing problems, cardiovascular disease, and epilepsy are common among seniors with autism. Seniors with autism are also at greater risk for emotional health conditions such as depression and anxiety, which increases the potential for suicide. It is important for families to pay attention to emotional healthcare strategies when a senior loved one has autism.

According to research, there is a common connection between Alzheimer’s and autism. 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 Pembroke Pines 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.

Routines Ease Symptoms

While some seniors may resist rigid schedules, those with autism tend to thrive on their routines. When possible, help your loved one keep the routines he or she has established because these routines often involve specific strategies. If a change is necessary, introduce it slowly and be alert for signs that your loved one is having difficulty with adjustment such as frequent outbursts or confusion. As you plan your loved one’s daily routine, keep in mind overstimulation can have a negative impact on his or her mood. Avoid too much noise, and try to alternate busy activities with quiet time that allows your loved one a moment to recharge.

Socialization Is Important But Different

Seniors with autism face challenges when it comes to socialization since they need quiet environments and may not always pick up on the nuances of conversation such as irony. However, they still crave friendships, and spending time with people every day is important for their mental health. Seniors with autism tend to prefer one-on-one social contact with familiar faces, so make sure your loved one spends time with his or her favorite people. By tailoring care strategies to the needs that come with autism, seniors with this condition can thrive throughout their golden years.

Performing daily tasks while simultaneously managing the symptoms of a serious illness can be challenging for seniors. The Pembroke Pines live-in care experts at Home Care Assistance are available 24/7 to make sure your loved one has the care he or she needs to remain safe and comfortable while aging in place. To create a tailored care plan for your senior loved one, get in touch with one of our professional Care Managers at (954) 374-8273.

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