Many people would bypass touch as an actual sense, unless they were to associate it with pain. The sense of touch also makes us aware of our surroundings, like the temperature, our body position, any pressure we may feel or any vibrations taking place in our surroundings. Much of our bodies make up the sense of touch.
Our skin is our largest organ. Together with our muscles, tendons, joints and internal organs, each and every one has receptors, or what we know as nerve endings, that help us to detect sensations. Particular receptors have the job of feeding information from the sensations detected to our brains about the condition of our internal organs. Without this information, we could not feel if we were having a heart attack, a stroke or an appendicitis. The results could be deadly!
Our brains are wired such that they will take the information being fed, interpret the type and amount of touch sensation and detect whether it is a pleasant sensation, an unpleasant sensation or a neutral sensation. Once the brain and body has the information, it can react.
The unfortunate thing is that as we age, our sensations change; reducing the number of sensations that we feel or that our brain is able to interpret. Sometimes the changes have to do with decreased blood flow to the nerve endings or to our spinal cords or to our brains. You see, the spinal cord is like the highway that nerve signals travel in order to get to the brain in order for interpretation to begin. If there is any damage to the highway, everything else is affected!
Tomorrow I will concentrate on why damage occurs. For today caregivers, try to put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Wouldn’t you want someone to show you that With Age Comes Respect?