Taking care of an aging family member or friend isn’t the easiest thing to do. It takes a lot of time and patience to be there for them amidst their difficulties. As people age, more and more limitations become apparent. Whether it’s mental, physical, emotional, or any other aspect of life, old age can take a toll on people, and it’s why our aging family members need our assistance.
Taking care of aging people isn’t easy. However, there are cases where the circumstances can make it a bit more complicated, such as taking care of an older person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a condition that provides challenges for people when it comes to behavior, social skills, communication, and other aspects of life.
It’s not just autism that makes it hard for them when aging, as more often than not, autism comes with other co-occurring conditions such as sleep disorders and epilepsy. Also, much of the research regarding the condition is focused on autism in children, which means there is a lack of reliable information about taking care of autism for adults.
While autism in children is a serious condition that requires care and patience from the people around them, autism can also have diverse and serious consequences for adults. Statistically, adults diagnosed with autism are at risk for various medical and mental conditions, including but not limited to:
- Coronary heart disease
- Motor disorders
Furthermore, it’s not just that autism is a serious health condition that’s an issue. It’s also an issue that most adults with autism only find out about the condition when it’s already bad and has caused other health issues. With the number of undiagnosed cases of autism in adults, many are at risk without their knowledge.
Even with a diagnosis, adults still struggle as they age, as the support and the medical services they get start to be insufficient for their needs. Also, parents take care of autistic children for as long as they can, but when autistic adults lose their parents, of course, it has massive implications for their long-term health.
Without the support they are used to getting from their parents, autistic adults struggle during a time in their life when they are more likely to have health problems. Autistic seniors are more likely to get various types of mental and physical conditions than normal seniors.
Furthermore, people with autism tend to have a sedentary lifestyle, preferring not to move around as much. Autistic people also take psychotic drugs such as aripiprazole which increases weight gain and high blood pressure. This type of medication puts them more at risk of dangerous conditions like coronary heart disease and diabetes.
With their special needs, aging people with autism need the best care that the people around them can provide, especially when their parents aren’t around to care for them anymore. If you have an aging autistic family member or friend, here are some of the things you can do to care for them:
- Be straight to the point. People with ASD have problems with communication. Due to this, you may have misunderstandings if you don’t take care when communicating with them. When talking to them, try asking specific questions.
For example, instead of asking them how they feel, ask them which body part hurts. Being more precise in speaking and asking questions will help you get the information you need about their health and provide the necessary response quicker.
- Mind their sensory experience. Many things can be nothing for you but triggering to those with autism. Loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, and other strong sensory inputs can cause distress for autistic people.
- Observe their needs. Since people with autism have communication problems, they might be unable to properly tell you if they are experiencing any distress with their health.
Be observant of their words and behavior, as they can be strong indications of problems. If they do something that doesn’t follow usual patterns, make sure to be observant and try to know if something is giving them trouble.
- Support groups can be helpful. With ASD or not, seniors face many of the same problems and challenges that come with old age. Most of that is loneliness and isolation. As the family members and peers of aging autistic people progress with their life, they might feel like they are being left out.
Everyone needs a support system, and even more so for autistic adults. To help them, try to find other adults struggling with autism near you to create support groups that will help them relate to others. Also, this will be a great opportunity for you to share what you know and get new tips and information with other people who take care of aging autistic adults.
Medical support is important
Autism is a complex condition, and it requires in-depth knowledge and understanding about the condition to help aging autistic adults cope as they continue to deal with autism coupled with old age.
Aging autistic adults need professional medical and emotional support to help them live life more normally and integrate into society. With the right medical assistance, they can help you know more about what you need to do and find out if there are problems you don’t know about or you need to prepare for in the future.
If necessary, you might also want to consider a healthcare facility like Homestyle Aged Care, where your aging autistic adult family members can enjoy professional care.