Planning for Aging

Normal Or Abnormal

Cognitive Decline In Aging


The blog "Engaging with Aging" is an insightful venture of a  what our future might look like assuming we are of “sound mind” to engage.  The normal physical and cognitive decline that Doris describes so vividly comes from her lived experience.  It is helpful to have a sense of what is to come.


Being of sound aging mind gives one the capacity to make and participate in decisions about day to day life.  It is difficult to self-assess cognitive decline when it is more than “just normal aging”.  For those in our bubble, family and those who know us, subtle changes may go unnoticed for extended periods of time until there is an impact on independent activities of daily living such as difficulty in balancing the check book or forgetting what was done the day before, or having had breakfast.  That is the time when one needs help and one may not be able to “Engage with Aging.” 


Of most significance and relevance is to have planned in advance when to relinquish control and have family/friends help make life sustaining decisions.  Relinquishing control also means not having to worry about some of the mundane day to day things such as: 


What to have for breakfast?  Do I need to shop? Who will make it?


What to wear?  Are my clothes clean?  Do I need to do a wash first?


Do I need a bath/shower?  When was the last?  Do I smell?  Did I brush my teeth and take my meds?


Imagining losing one’s mental capacity is frightening.  Our mind is what makes us who we are connecting our past to those we know and our future.  Even imagining the future without the mind is not imaginable.  Yet we need to make a plan, need to prepare for the unknown otherwise others must.


Living In The World, Living At Home, Personal Self Care

There are tasks which have been categorized to help anticipate when and how one might need assistance with activities of daily living.


Advanced Activities of Daily Living:  Living in the World

  • Working for compensation

  • Social interaction with people through face to face encounters such as letters, email, using computer and internet

  • Driving a vehicle and traveling away from home

  • Engaged and interested in activities outside the home


Clues of potential problems:

  • Changes in spontaneity or inhibition

  • Retreating from doing things as before

  • Change or loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed

  • Unable or procrastinating in completing a task

  • May lose previous flexibility and adaptability


Instrumental Activities of Daily Living:  Living at Home

  • Managing money

  • Administration of medications

  • Shopping for essentials and pleasure

  • Using the telephone

  • Using transportation

  • Preparing meals

  • Doing housework


Clues to potential Problems  

  • Difficulty managing check book and money

  • Missing medication or not getting refills

  • Not calling on phone when would previously

  • Choosing not to drive when previously would

  • Diet changing to prepared foods rather than preparing meal

  • House no longer kempt


Basic Activities of Daily Living:  

  • Personal Living and Self Care

  • Executive functions as : attention, visuospatial skills, memory

  • Ability to self care:  bathing, dressing, continence then eating and grooming, transferring, toileting


Clues to Potential Problems

  • Unable to perform basic activities of daily living


GC: 21 Feb 2021