Senior citizens are a big part of our society but as our elder’s age. They tend to develop different sensory deficiencies.
It is normal for older people to suffer from such deficiencies. Many experts believe that it is a natural part of growing old. But due to these deficiencies, most elders tend to isolate themselves.
According to one of the elderly companionship services in the U.K., hearing and vision loss could affect physical functioning in old people as well. All of this could have emotional effects on senior citizens, and they tend to behave differently as well.
The National Institute of Health in America conducted research that concluded that around 67 percent of senior citizens in the United States suffer from two or more sensory deficiencies.
Senior citizens usually develop hearing loss, taste loss, and eyesight loss after the age of 65. The hearing and taste loss could be less but almost 30% of people above 65 years are susceptible to developing different kinds of vision loss.
Unfortunately, these sensory impairments are neither totally curable nor preventable at old age. To some extent, the impairments can be reduced, as there are sensory impairment devices to help elders.
What is Sensory Impairment?
Sensory impairment is a general medical term that is commonly used to describe people with sensory deficiencies.
This general term covers a wide range of symptoms including hearing loss. Vision loss, taste loss, inability to feel touch, and any other symptom that involves the human senses.
Hearing and vision loss is the most common form of sensory impairment. But taste loss and smell loss are also there but mostly overlooked by many people.
But if someone keeps getting food poisoning, this calls for concern because that person might not be able to smell the food and keep eating the spoiled food.
In the same way, if a person tends to get injured more often at old age, he or she might be able to sense the pain through touch. These symptoms indicate that these elders may suffer from underlying severe conditions. So, be sure to check every possibility before ruling out anything.
Living with a hearing loss or vision impairment is definitely challenging.
One has to be careful because you wouldn’t want to irritate those who’re going through all this. But at the same time, you also don’t want to hurt their feelings by not talking.
Some experts believe that older people that suffer from depression or cognitive disorders such as dementia could be at higher risk for experiencing sensory impairments.
It happens because their bodies lack immunity to encounter such conditions due to constant stress.
Some elders could develop a condition called sensory processing disorder that makes it harder for them to process any kind of information. And if your loved one is suffering from sensory processing disorder, it would be hard for them to keep a steady balance, they might develop sensitivity to touch, and it would be difficult for them to engage in conversation.
In short, it can be said that elders tend to develop various health problems, but sensory impairment definitely makes things harder for senior citizens.
If a loved one is going through a phase where they’re suffering from a sensory impairment, know that even communication is harder for them.
Sensory Impairment of a loved one
Aging doesn’t concern anyone unless and until one falls sick. The reality hits people when everyday tasks become a nightmare to handle.
Seeing your loved ones suffering through a phase where they are losing hearing or vision could be very difficult to handle.
As for the person, it could have a life-changing impact. At that age, people need to be careful while handling everyday activities.
A small burn could take months to recover because the body doesn’t have the energy to heal the burn faster. So, if you have someone at home that has developed sensory impairment, you need to be careful around them.
Considering various health concerns, they may encounter difficulties. But here are a few tips that can be used to make their life easier.
Tips for Helping Seniors with Sensory Impairment
One can’t take away the pain of aging, but there are a few things that you can do to help senior citizens cope with a sensory impairment.
- If your parent or a grandparent is sensory impaired, it is best to gather some information regarding their symptoms to understand their condition. When you understand the condition, you may not be able to do much but at least you will have an idea to empathize with them. For instance, if your loved one is losing hearing, you might want to get them an earpiece that can enhance their ability to hear correctly or if it is not applicable, you might want to speak to them loudly.
- Sensory impairments could make managing tasks difficult for seniors. So it would be ideal to check on them on and off and see if they need help with anything. You could help them by cooking food or by doing the laundry.
- Another way to help them is to make sure that all your electronic devices have braille display screen readers. This is an expensive solution, but it could be very useful for those who have problems with the loss of vision. One can also set up technology apps such as Alexa, Siri, Cortona, and others to help the seniors while navigating the electronics.
- Elders love to talk to people because, at that age, people want to talk about their feelings and experiences. So if you could manage the time, try talking to them or better listen to them talking. If they can’t hear you, be sure to keep your mouth visible. They might understand you with lip movement and your facial expressions. A few hand gestures could also reinforce the idea of what you are talking about. Make sure you don’t have your mask on because it would hide your mouth and facial expressions.
- Elders tend to get sensitive, and an abrupt reaction would spook them. Due to the slow process and sensory impairments, elders don’t process information as fast as young people. It is recommended to approach them slowly and calmly. Don’t try to scare them or try anything that they are not used to because they might not be able to take it lightly. When you approach them, try to come from the front and let them know that you are thereby touching them on the arms or shoulders gently.
- Senior citizens have a hard time hearing and seeing things properly. So, it would be helpful that you develop some patience to talk to your elders. Even if you need to rephrase and repeat the things a few times. You wouldn’t want to be loud, but it would be helpful if you speak clearly. Writing down a few things on a notepad could also help with communication.
- Make sure that your home has enough light to see things clearly.
- Try to manage your clutter and don’t leave loose wires and stuff on. The floor as it could be a hazard for elder people and might cause them to fall on the ground.