Managing Sensory Impairment to Improve Quality of Life for Older Adults
Sensory loss is common in older age, and 94% of older adults experience impairment of at least one sense.
Sensory deficiencies are associated with reduced social function in older adults. Deteriorating eyesight, loss of taste or dealing with hearing impairment can all have an adverse effect on the ability of elderly people to comfortably enjoy social interactions and keep engaged with the world around them. However, regular dental check ups, hearing tests and eye examinations can identify underlying issues that, without treatment or management, could become obstacles to a better quality of life in old age.
Good Oral Health to Prevent Loss of Taste
Good oral health in the elderly is important for overall well being. The bacteria associated with poor dental hygiene can significantly impair taste and, for 92% of people who experience a loss of taste, their enjoyment of food and drink is reduced. For frailer older people with poor oral health, supporting their nutritional needs and keeping them well hydrated can become more difficult. Regular dental check ups can prevent the onset of oral diseases and help patients to avoid unnecessary tooth decay or gum disease. With a healthy smile, older people are able to continue to eat and enjoy social interactions without feeling uncomfortable.
Managing Hearing Loss to Improve Self-Esteem
Hearing loss is not only frustrating for older people but it can also have a profound effect on the way they are treated. It causes misunderstandings and confusion and can lead to low self-esteem and social withdrawal. Although there is no cure for hearing loss, hearing aids are a very effective way of managing the physical deterioration. When adopted early on, they can also help to control the frustration associated with not being able to hear properly and prevent the onset of depression often experienced by people with undiagnosed hearing loss.
Restoring Independence to Elderly with Sight Loss
Elderly people with deteriorating vision are also more at risk of experiencing depression. In the UK, 20% of people over 75 are living with sight loss and the mental health implications of their condition are often overlooked. Physical adaptations to the environment can help the visually impaired to regain independence. As well as checking that patients have regular eye tests, medical assessments should also ask how they are coping mentally with their condition.
Sensory loss can have a negative impact on the wellbeing of older adults. Regular check ups and tests can identify impairments early and ensure that they are treated or managed effectively so that quality of life is retained.
Guest Post by Cassandra McLinden