Though autism is most frequently diagnosed when a person is young, many people are not diagnosed until they are adults, and some who are just barely on the spectrum may even manage to avoid diagnosis until they are much older. If you have an elderly loved one with autism, he or she may need help managing certain aspects of his or her health. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior home care Toronto families trust, has put together a list of 5 health risks for seniors with autism.
1. High Blood Pressure
A study conducted by Kaiser Permanente found approximately 27 percent of autistic adults live with high blood pressure compared to 19 percent of non-autistic adults. One reason for this is individuals with autism often have limited diets and may make poor dietary choices, which can increase cardiovascular risk factors. People with autism also tend to experience high levels of anxiety, especially in unfamiliar situations, which can also contribute to hypertension.
The Kaiser study also found 26 percent of the adults studied were obese compared to 16 percent of the non-autistic adults. In addition to picky eating habits, autistic adults tend to be more socially isolated. This can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, which increases the risk for obesity. Certain medications used to treat autism symptoms may also contribute to unwanted weight gain. A Toronto part-time caregiver can provide social stimulation and prepare nutritious meals for your loved one, which can reduce the risks of both obesity and hypertension.
3. High Cholesterol
Adults with autism are nearly twice as likely to have elevated cholesterol than non-autistic adults. Again, this relates to the unusual eating habits and sedentary lifestyle often associated with autism. Encouraging your loved one to get regular medical checkups and providing as many healthy dietary choices as possible can help keep his or her cholesterol in check.
An elevated risk of diabetes goes hand in hand with obesity. Approximately 6 percent of autistic adults studied by Kaiser developed diabetes compared to 4 percent of non-autistic adults. Helping your loved one remain as physically active as possible and making sure he or she maintains a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of diabetes. If possible, try to find a physical activity you and your loved one can participate in together, even something as simple as walking.
5. Gastrointestinal Disorders
Adults with autism are 3 times more likely to experience gastrointestinal disorders like constipation. This could be due to a number of factors, including medications and lifestyle factors. Encouraging your loved one to be more active and providing additional fluids and fiber supplements may help combat occasional constipation.
Many of the strategies used in the dementia and Alzheimer’s home care Toronto seniors rely on can also be helpful for seniors with autism. At Home Care Assistance, our caregivers can engage your loved one in mentally and socially stimulating activities that appeal to seniors with this condition, and our care plans can be tailored to include tasks like exercise and meal prep to ensure your loved one remains physically healthy. For more information and to schedule a complimentary consultation, please call one of our Care Managers at (416) 488-8777 today.