Focus on Seniors

Aiding the Senses As We Age

Minimize hearing loss with softer, natural sounds.
Matilda Charles, December 2017

Ninety-four percent of us will lose one or more of our senses as we get older, according to a study recently conducted by the University of Ottawa. The purpose of the study was to help those who work with seniors understand how they perceive the world as senses wane, especially in the long-term care field.

The results offered conclusions and help on topics such as:

• Hearing: Most seniors over the age of 85 have hearing loss. To help with that, minimize sounds of heating and air conditioning systems, and provide a background of nature sounds and music.

• Smell: The sense of smell starts to decrease at age 60. Utilize open kitchens so seniors can smell food being prepared. Provide fresh-air ventilation.

• Vision: Weakened eye muscles, diminished vision. Use high-contrast colors helps seniors navigate corridors and see all the food on their plate. Avoid clutter. Install minimum-glare flooring.

• Touch: Each year seniors lose 1 percent of their ability to perceive vibrations or pressure. Animal therapy can provide opportunities to touch. Beware injuries to feet, since they often can go unnoticed.

• Taste: Seniors’ ability to taste starts to decline at age 40 in women and age 50 in men. Medications can alter the taste of foods; look for alternative medications. Provide foods with texture, and use a variety of spices and herbs.

In addition to the sensory losses, seniors can experience loneliness, which can result in aggression and stress. Help by providing a regular schedule of activities and social interaction.


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