Dulling of the senses during the later years of life is a common occurrence. With smell, for instance, a study in the journal Chemical Senses found approximately 30 percent of adults 80 and older reported changes with this sense. Below, we go over what can happen if a senior loved one loses one or more senses and what can be done to help.
Increased Safety Risks
A reduction or loss of certain senses can pose immediate safety risks for seniors. For example, issues with sight and hearing could affect:
• Perception of the immediate area
• Balance and coordination
• Navigation of stairs or other potentially risky home features
• The ability to safely carry out various activities and routines
Problems with other senses can present safety risks as well. These could include an inability to tell if food is spoiled, smell a gas leak, or determine if something is too hot to touch.
The first step to take with any reduction in the senses is to see what your loved one’s doctor or an appropriate specialist, such as a neurologist, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, or an ophthalmologist, has to say. Depending on what’s found, your loved one may benefit from:
• Hearing aids
• Glasses/contacts or surgery to remove cataracts
• Detectors that provide alerts when dangerous fumes are sensed
• Home modifications to reduce fall risks
• In-home care if assistance is needed on a more regular basis for safety reasons
Older adults with significant sensory loss may need help to continue living at home safely. If your senior loved one needs hourly or live-in care, Kingwood Home Care Assistance can help. Our caregivers can assist with exercise and mobility, prepare nutritious meals, provide timely medication reminders, and help with a wide array of other important daily tasks.
Changes in Appetite or Eating Habits
Reduced or diminished senses can also affect seniors’ appetite and eating habits. If you’re a family caregiver, this could have both you and your loved one dreading mealtimes because of the various issues that can arise.
Dental problems, issues with medication, nasal and sinus abnormalities, and undiagnosed health conditions are all possible reasons for sensory changes of this nature. Again, this is why the first step to take is to have your loved one evaluated by a doctor, dentist, or other appropriate medical professional.
When problems with the senses are affecting eating habits or appetite, your loved one may benefit from:
• Meals enhanced with spices and other healthy flavor enhancers
• Spacing out items on plates to make it easier to tell them apart and prevent flavors from blending together
• More variety with foods so the taste buds remain sufficiently stimulated
• Meals made with more aromatic ingredients
Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted senior care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help.
Diminished Quality of Daily Life
A loss or reduction of any of the senses can also have a significant impact on the quality of daily life for seniors. For some older adults, this could mean being more withdrawn or developing issues with depression. For this reason, it’s crucial to seek medical input any time problems with one or more senses are noticed or suspected. Once you and your loved one know what’s going on, a plan can be put together to change what’s correctable and address what’s not.
Families who need help caring for senior loved ones can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Kingwood senior home care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today at 832-412-1345 to learn more about our customized care plans.