Decline in Function

Maximizing your quality of life as you age

As we age, our cells and organs begin to lose their ability to function efficiently. Chronic conditions can further affect your organs, and lead to serious decline.

As you get older, you may find you cannot digest foods as well, handle strenuous activity or get over a cold as quickly as you could when you were younger—these are normal effects of the aging process.

Chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, cause your heart, kidneys and other organs to work harder. When one organ or part of the body becomes weaker, it often affects other parts of the body. For instance, as your intestines age, you are less able to absorb nutrients such as calcium. This leads to a lower bone density, raising your risk of arthritis, osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Symptoms of Functional Decline

Signs that you may be experiencing a decline in function can include:

  • Depression
  • Inability to perform daily tasks
  • Memory loss
  • Multiple chronic medical conditions

Overview

As you get older, you may find you cannot digest foods as well, handle strenuous activity or get over a cold as quickly as you could when you were younger—these are normal effects of the aging process.

Chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, cause your heart, kidneys and other organs to work harder. When one organ or part of the body becomes weaker, it often affects other parts of the body. For instance, as your intestines age, you are less able to absorb nutrients such as calcium. This leads to a lower bone density, raising your risk of arthritis, osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Symptoms of Functional Decline

Signs that you may be experiencing a decline in function can include:

  • Depression
  • Inability to perform daily tasks
  • Memory loss
  • Multiple chronic medical conditions

IU Health Geriatrics physicians offer specialized services for older adults with a focus on improving health and slowing decline in function, including:

Laboratory Testing

The first step toward improving your decline in function is determining if there is an underlying cause. Our physicians perform blood tests to check for issues such as nutrient deficiencies or signs of chronic conditions.

Lack of vitamins and other nutrients can affect bone density, balance, cognitive function, memory and a variety of other aspects of your health. As you grow older, your body may not absorb nutrients as well as it used to, causing deficiencies. A healthy diet and vitamin supplements can correct these issues, improving your overall health.

Lab testing can also detect the causes behind a host of other health issues, from declined thyroid and kidney function, to blood sugar issues, to high cholesterol. Correcting these issues can greatly improve your health by restoring energy and reducing pain.

Cognitive Exam

A cognitive exam consists of questions that help determine if your ability to process thoughts has declined or if you have a neurological condition such as memory loss, or depression. Neurological conditions can affect your entire body, causing weakness, fatigue and loss of sleep. They can even affect your balance. Improving your mental health with medicines, counseling or group therapy can slow or reverse loss of function in some cases.

Social History

A social history allows us to know more about you and your family. Aspects of your life, like your spouse’s health, if you live alone and if you are retired can all affect your health. Social histories also shed light on habits, such as what you typically eat, how you sleep and if you exercise. By understanding your day-to-day lifestyle, we may be able to spot areas of improvement that could increase overall function.

Depression Scale

A depression scale is a series of questions used to determine if you have depression. Depression is a serious problem among older adults and can keep you from living a healthy lifestyle. Treatment with antidepressants and counseling can help you feel better, both mentally and physically.

Medication Assessment

We ask you to bring in all of your medicines so we can identify any issues or interactions they may be causing. You are more likely to experience side effects from medicines as you age. Common issues include dizziness, loss of balance, memory loss and muscle weakness. If needed, we adjust your medicines to improve your health and help you feel better.

Education Resources

Our geriatrics team offers you the education you need to live a healthier lifestyle. We may refer you to community resources such as support groups, exercise classes or senior community centers. We can also provide education on aging, being a caregiver or advanced planning. We are an expert resource available to you 24 hours a day by phone.

Referrals to Specialists

If your decline in function is related to other health conditions, such as heart disease, we will refer you to other IU Health specialists who can assist you. IU Health provides coordinated care among our cardiologists, neurologists, palliative care physicians and doctors in over 40 other specialties.

Treatment

IU Health Geriatrics physicians offer specialized services for older adults with a focus on improving health and slowing decline in function, including:

Laboratory Testing

The first step toward improving your decline in function is determining if there is an underlying cause. Our physicians perform blood tests to check for issues such as nutrient deficiencies or signs of chronic conditions.

Lack of vitamins and other nutrients can affect bone density, balance, cognitive function, memory and a variety of other aspects of your health. As you grow older, your body may not absorb nutrients as well as it used to, causing deficiencies. A healthy diet and vitamin supplements can correct these issues, improving your overall health.

Lab testing can also detect the causes behind a host of other health issues, from declined thyroid and kidney function, to blood sugar issues, to high cholesterol. Correcting these issues can greatly improve your health by restoring energy and reducing pain.

Cognitive Exam

A cognitive exam consists of questions that help determine if your ability to process thoughts has declined or if you have a neurological condition such as memory loss, or depression. Neurological conditions can affect your entire body, causing weakness, fatigue and loss of sleep. They can even affect your balance. Improving your mental health with medicines, counseling or group therapy can slow or reverse loss of function in some cases.

Social History

A social history allows us to know more about you and your family. Aspects of your life, like your spouse’s health, if you live alone and if you are retired can all affect your health. Social histories also shed light on habits, such as what you typically eat, how you sleep and if you exercise. By understanding your day-to-day lifestyle, we may be able to spot areas of improvement that could increase overall function.

Depression Scale

A depression scale is a series of questions used to determine if you have depression. Depression is a serious problem among older adults and can keep you from living a healthy lifestyle. Treatment with antidepressants and counseling can help you feel better, both mentally and physically.

Medication Assessment

We ask you to bring in all of your medicines so we can identify any issues or interactions they may be causing. You are more likely to experience side effects from medicines as you age. Common issues include dizziness, loss of balance, memory loss and muscle weakness. If needed, we adjust your medicines to improve your health and help you feel better.

Education Resources

Our geriatrics team offers you the education you need to live a healthier lifestyle. We may refer you to community resources such as support groups, exercise classes or senior community centers. We can also provide education on aging, being a caregiver or advanced planning. We are an expert resource available to you 24 hours a day by phone.

Referrals to Specialists

If your decline in function is related to other health conditions, such as heart disease, we will refer you to other IU Health specialists who can assist you. IU Health provides coordinated care among our cardiologists, neurologists, palliative care physicians and doctors in over 40 other specialties.

At IU Health, we are committed to meeting the growing needs of our senior population. Through our partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine, we research senior health to find new treatments and solutions to diseases of aging. Our physicians are also training the next generation of geriatricians to ensure we continue to provide high-quality care to seniors in the future.

Senior Health Research

At IU Health, we are committed to meeting the growing needs of our senior population. Through our partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine, we research senior health to find new treatments and solutions to diseases of aging. Our physicians are also training the next generation of geriatricians to ensure we continue to provide high-quality care to seniors in the future.

Patient Stories for Decline in Function

IU Health Geriatrics

Our geriatrics specialists understand the concerns of elderly patients and have the training and experience to recognize your needs as you age.

IU Health Gastroenterology

Our gastroenterology physicians assist you in managing conditions related to your digestive health, such as colon cancer or acid reflux.

IU Health Neuorolgy

Our neurology specialists diagnose and treat neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Alzheimer's Foundation

This website offers information on Alzheimer's disease and dementia symptoms, diagnosis, stages, treatment, care and support resources.

Resources

IU Health Geriatrics

Our geriatrics specialists understand the concerns of elderly patients and have the training and experience to recognize your needs as you age.

IU Health Gastroenterology

Our gastroenterology physicians assist you in managing conditions related to your digestive health, such as colon cancer or acid reflux.

IU Health Neuorolgy

Our neurology specialists diagnose and treat neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Alzheimer's Foundation

This website offers information on Alzheimer's disease and dementia symptoms, diagnosis, stages, treatment, care and support resources.