Senior Sensory Loss


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Caregiver_Brushing_Seniors_Hair4.jpg​New Research: Making Sense of Aging Losses

From Gary Freeman of the Home Instead Senior Care® office serving SE Dallas, Ellis and E Johnson Counties               

Q.    It's difficult to understand what my 90-year-old mother is going through. She has arthritis, macular degeneration, and she is nearly deaf. I can't imagine. I know these issues are common ones for seniors. How widespread is this and what can I do to help keep Mom more engaged in spite of all this?

It's no surprise to most of us that with aging comes physical loss. It fact, many times all five of the senses are impacted: vision, smell, hearing, touch and taste.

A new study, however, claims to be breaking new ground in looking at what happens when seniors lose more than one sense. Sixty-seven percent of the older adults in this study had lost two or more senses.

In this new study, researchers examined how often multisensory losses occur and what their impact on older adults might be. In the study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, University of Chicago researchers analyzed data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), a population-based study of health and social factors affecting adults ages 57-85. The researchers reported several key findings:

  • 94 percent of the participants experienced loss in at least one of their senses; 67 percent had two or more sensory losses. Of those with multisensory losses, 65 percent had substantial loss in at least one of their senses, and 22 percent experienced substantial loss in two or more senses.
  • 74 percent of participants suffered impairment in their ability to taste, which was the most common sensory loss.
  • 38 percent of participants had a sense of touch that was "fair;" 32 percent said it was "poor."
  • 22 percent had smell impairment (19 percent fair/3 percent poor function).
  • 14 percent had corrected distance vision that was "fair;" 6 percent said it was "poor."
  • 13 percent rated their corrected hearing as "fair;" 5 percent said it was "poor."

Older age was linked to poorer function in all five senses; the largest differences were in hearing, vision and smell. What's more, men had worse functioning for hearing, smell, and taste than did women, although men had better corrected vision than women.

I​f your mother is living independently, she could benefit from additional help at home. Why not contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office? A Home Instead® CAREGiverSM could provide a variety of services to assist her in the areas where aging issues may have taken a toll on her life. Call today to learn more.

To learn more about your local Home Instead Senior Care office, contact Gary Freeman at 972-576-1100 or go to HomeInstead.com/742​​. For more information about the study, go to http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jgs.13955/abstract.

Each Home Instead Senior Care® franchise office is independently owned and operated. ​

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