Why is Sensory Decline Fairly Inevitable in Seniors?
“Dim vision, hard of hearing and trembling voice? Surely you must be above 60?”. This query shows that typically all health issues of seniors are easily attributed to their age.
Sensory decline is fairly inevitable in seniors. A study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society claims that nearly 94% of the adults above 60 complain of at least one sensory impairment.
This fact is not something to be ignored and shelved. Older adult mental health becomes greatly affected due to the sensory decline in their old age. Seniors must compulsorily seek therapy for sensory issues on a periodic basis. Elders with sensory issues also need the services of a reliable senior healthcare assistant. This can be provided by assisted living facilities in a capable manner.
What are the sensory issues faced by seniors in their old age?
After 60, most seniors find that at least one of their 5 sense organs is affected. Their sensory capabilities of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch show a significant decline in the following manner.
- Eye – Dimming or blurring of vision. Sensitivity to light or glare, faded appearance of colours, Double vision, etc are some of the health ailments that need therapy for sensory issues.
- Ear – Inability to hear high-pitched or low-pitched sounds, ringing in the ears, muffled sounds, inability to distinguish between words, etc. need therapy for sensory issues.
- Taste and Smell – Elders who have lost their ability to taste certain flavours or sense odours must definitely seek therapy for sensory issues.
- Touch – With age, the threshold of pain decreases and seniors are not able to withstand even the slightest pain. They also experience numbness and a delayed reaction to touch for which they need therapy for sensory issues.
Of all the sensory health issues, the sense of taste seemed to decline rapidly in seniors with age. Nearly. 74% of adults complained of a lack of sensitivity to taste. 32% of the elders complained of poor tactile or touch sensation. In fact, it is surprising to note that a study by Dr.Jayant Pinto at the University of Chicago claimed that olfactory dysfunction in seniors had a mortality rate that exceeded even that of heart disease or cancer!
So, it is very clear that elders do experience a sensory decline after 60 and must take therapy for sensory issues in order to avoid further complications. Sensory issues have a major impact on older adult mental health and hence must be attended to, immediately.
How do sensory issues affect older adult mental health?
Most of the mental health disorders experienced by aged adults may be connected with some sensory loss. For instance, one-third of the elders with visual impairment suffer from depression. Similarly, two-thirds of the seniors with hearing deficiency also suffer from the same.
Therapy for sensory issues in elders
Seniors need great support in their advanced years, especially if they experience a decline in their sensory faculties. The following are the ways in which caregivers at home or assisted living facilities can offer therapy for sensory issues for seniors
- Eye – Periodical eye check-up, regular yoga and eye exercises, check-ups for glaucoma, cataract and macular degeneration
- Ear – Periodical ear check-up, advise and motivate the use of hearing aids
- Taste – Prepare healthy diet with extra seasoning, provide a doctor consultation to induce better taste sensitivity, offer the prescribed medicines
- Smell – Arrange for ENT consultation for seniors, encourage nasal breathing exercises, provide a dust-free environment for senior health, install gas detectors with alarms for elder safety.
- Touch – Check the room and water temperature for a bath every day, check the seniors for bodily injuries.
Over and above all this, seniors must be provided with a stress-free and secure environment where they experience not only comfort but companionship and care as well. Elders with sensory health issues must never be left alone but need constant monitoring 24×7 by a senior health care assistant. If this is not possible at home, it is better to place the elder under the care of able assisted living facilities.
How can assisted living facilities help seniors with sensory health issues?
Assisted living facilities play a pivotal role in helping elders with sensory health issues in the following ways.
- Create a senior-friendly environ with special focus to the sensory needs of elders.
- Arrange for a seasoned senior health care assistant to be with the elder 24×7 to take special care of their sensory health
- Organize regular doctor visits at home to check the sensory health of elders
- Prepare a senior-friendly healthy and tasty diet, keeping in mind their state of physical and sensory health
- Organize regular eye sound and speech exercises for improving sensory health
- Maintain a stress-free ambience with plenty of care and companionship for elders.
Elders do experience a decline in their sensory health as they age. But with adequate care from able assisted living facilities, they can regain their sensory health with amazing alacrity.