What is sensory deficit
As advancing age brings along many health problems, the sensory deficit is the one that makes life very difficult for our elderly loved ones. The sensory deficit can make communication, an extremely difficult affair for our loved ones. Living with hearing loss or vision impairment, or some other form of sensory deficit severely impacts our elderly’s communication skills.
Elderly 65 years and above, are more prone to develop visual or hearing impairment
Experts believe that sensory changes are a common part of aging and it has also been reported that, about 30% elderly aged 65 years and above, are more prone to develop some of the other forms of visual impairment. In addition, it has also been said that changes in the sensory function can also become a major source of isolation. In addition, loss of hearing and vision has been also significantly linked to constraints in emotional, social as well as physical functioning.
Sensory deficit and our loved one
Aging has a serious impact on the senses of our elderly loved one and the major ones that are affected include vision and hearing. Vision impairment and changes in hearing can have a life-changing impact on our elderly loved ones. According to Jayant Pinto, who is an MD, associate professor of surgery at Chicago, sensory impairment is a common factor in old age and is one of the serious causes of health concerns and accidents such as burns, which practically occurs due to loss of sensitivity to touch. He adds that food poisoning among the elderly population is also common due to the loss of sensation to smell, which does not allow our elderly to recognize fresh foods from the spoiled ones.
In view of this, it becomes important to learn about the common forms of the sensory deficit and the various tips to take care of our elderly loved ones.
Hearing impairment – understanding the condition
It has been estimated that hearing loss is the third chronic form of the condition that is known to affect elderlies aged 75 years and above. The various forms of hearing problems that affect our elderly loved ones include sensorineural hearing loss, presbycusis, and conductive hearing loss. Elderly suffering from hearing loss, have a very difficult time in communicating their needs, ideas, and problems with others. It makes life very difficult to deal with.
Tips to help the elderly with hearing impairment:
- Hearing aids are important for elderlies with hearing impairment. Make sure you check the aids periodically, to see whether they are functioning properly.
- While communicating with an elderly with hearing loss, it is necessary that you speak slowly and clearly, so that your elderly can properly read your lips. Avoid speaking fast or shouting, as this would not allow the person to appropriately read your lips.
- You also need to remember that chewing while talking; burying your face with hands and beard, the mustache can all serve as a distraction for communication.
- While communicating, you must remember to give all your direct attention to your elderly. You also need to maintain eye contact with them and not with the interpreter, if there is any.
- If your elderly vision is fine and there is no problem, then you can always communicate with them through writing.
Vision changes – understanding the problems and tips to help elderly
Poor vision or blindness is again one of the commonest problems of old age. This is one of the major reasons for their frustration and depression, as they lose their independence and their capability of carrying out their personal chores without help. The various conditions that cause vision loss or poor vision include cataract, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, temporal arteritis, hypertensive retinopathy, glaucoma, and detached retina. Vision changes have some serious impact on the lives of our elderly
They will find difficulty in doing the following activities:
- They face grave difficulty in reading the newspaper, medication labels
- Are unable to safely cross the roads or are no longer capable of driving safely
- They are now more susceptible to falls and accidents
Elderly with poor vision or vision loss do need some help in doing their daily activities.
Tips for caregivers to help their elderly:
- While communicating, make sure you use clear and natural voice. Be calm and speak clearly to your elderly.
- Let your elderly know that you are leaving the room or are in the same room.
- Make them aware of the various hazards in the room that can harm them. Best is to remove as many hazards and obstacles as possible from the room.
- You need to provide assistance to your elderly while walking. Give them your arm for support, so that your elderly is comfortable and confident while they walk.
Changes in the sensation of smell and taste
Changes in the sense of smell and taste are a common phenomenon, as one age. Furthermore, this causes a decrease in the ability to detect the sense of smell and taste. Also, this is dangerous and can become a potential risk for accidents and injuries. In other words, changes in the sensation of smell and taste can make a serious impact on the quality of life of our elderlies.
Understanding the facts and tips for the elderly
- A decrease in the sense of taste can cause a decrease in appetite. This can seriously hamper their nutritional needs, and pave way for deficiencies to set in.
- The inability to smell the delicious aroma of foods can make the mealtime less appealing and can lead to our elderly eating less.
- A decrease in the sense of smell can become the potential cause of accidents. The inability to smell a gas leakage, fire or smoke, can become a serious issue in safety.
- The inability to smell properly can pose a great risk for food poisoning, diarrhea, etc, as our elderly would not be able to smell spoiled food.
Finally, the sensory deficit in aging is a serious issue and as caregivers, we must try our best to help our elderly live a comfortable life. Also, check out this post on hearing loss.