While seniors can expect their senses to weaken as they age, it still has a significant impact on their daily life. Thus, providers of home health care in California take these into account when creating their care programs. But how can you help your older loved ones who might have such sensory impairment? Let’s take a closer look.
The Prevalent Sensory Impairment Issues Seniors Face
Helping your elderly loved one cope with sensory impairment begins before they even have it. Here, you need to know what kind of impairment that they might have. This will help you better prepare your loved one for when those conditions do arrive.
It is worth noting that about two-thirds of older adults suffer from more than one form of sensory impairment. That can be especially hard, as even just one type can have a significant effect on a person’s well-being.
Vision loss is arguably the most familiar form of sensory loss in seniors. Surprisingly, it is only the third most prevalent form, affecting about 20% of older adults. But considering how we rely heavily on vision, it is understandable why it impacts our daily activities significantly.
There are a variety of reasons why vision loss might occur in older adults. These include:
- Age-related macular degeneration: This affects the macular region of the eye and results in the blurring of your vision.
- Cataracts: The clouding of your eyes’ lenses due to the breaking up of proteins in it. It can develop gradually in one or both eyes.
- Glaucoma: Damage in the optic nerve brought about by various factors.
- Diabetic retinopathy: Damage to the retina due to diabetes.
Beyond these cases, seniors might also contract eye problems from other illnesses or injuries. Regular checkups can help you detect these problems early.
Another common sensory loss that older people encounter is hearing loss. It can come in as either a partial or complete loss of hearing. Presbycusis is the age-related gradual loss of hearing that naturally occurs in people.
However, several factors can aggravate it, including constant exposure to noise and possible trauma to the ear. Hearing loss can significantly affect your loved one’s ability to communicate. They might also have a hard time responding to stimuli in the environment, increasing the risk of accidents.
Loss Of Taste
This may be third on the list, but the loss of taste is actually the most prevalent form of sensory impairment for seniors. It affects more than 74% of older adults. Since taste is intrinsically linked to smell, a loss in the latter also results in the former. As such, it is one of the most common forms of multiple sensory impairments.
Natural loss of taste in seniors happens as the taste buds begin to weaken and not regenerate at around age 50. This is also the time when your olfactory nerves might start showing signs of damage, weakening your sense of smell. However, other conditions can further worsen it, such as nasal and sinus infections, dental problems, and smoking.
Loss Of Touch
Gradual loss of touch happens as the nerve endings embedded in your skin start to get less blood and be damaged. On the other hand, the brain or the spinal cord might also have issues, preventing the proper flow of electrical signals.
Note that this doesn’t just affect the sense of touch itself. Seniors also lose the ability to perceive pain, temperature, and pressure. Additionally, it might impact their ability to perceive body position. With that, they might not be able to respond to dangerous stimuli quickly, resulting in potential injuries.
Helping Your Elderly Loved Ones Cope With Sensory Impairment
If your elderly loved one is under home health care in California, the first thing that your provider will do is make sure that your home is well suited for them to move around in. The changes that you will need to do depend on the type of impairment your loved one has.
If they are visually impaired, you might need to make things easier to spot around the house. You will also need to make sure that there are no obstacles they might not notice to avoid possible injuries.
Interacting And Communicating With Your Loved One
As their senses start to decline, your elderly loved ones might find it harder to communicate and interact with people around them. Because of this, they might feel isolated and lonely. This can worsen any medical conditions they might have.
Thus, make the effort to make communicating with them easier. For instance, you should make your mouth visible at all times to them when talking. Even if they have difficulty hearing, they will still be able to discern what you say through your lip movements and facial expressions.
You also need to be patient when they ask you to repeat what you have just said. They might want you to do this several times so that they can understand what you have just said. In some instances, you might even need to rephrase everything so your message gets through. Do this slowly and calmly so that they can better follow.
Helping Them Interact With Their Environment
Your elderly loved ones would also likely still want to do the different activities they used to do. For that, help them overcome their sensory impairment by providing them with assistive tools. In the case of visual impairment, you can use audio-based screen readers to help them use electronic devices.
Meanwhile, if you are cooking for a senior with a weakened sense of taste, you can prepare food with simple flavors. This makes it easier for them to discern the taste and enjoy their food more. Avoid foods that have strong flavors, as it can confuse their palette.
Get The Help Of The Best Home Health Care In California
We strongly believe that sensory decline should not prevent seniors from enjoying their life. As such, one of our goals in providing the best home health care in California is to help the elderly better adapt to their condition. We will provide extensive rehabilitation programs to retrain their senses and get them back to exploring the world.