The sense of touch can easily be changed if certain nutrients are not present on a regular basis in an elder’s diet. Another change can be because of severe medical issues such as diabetes; nerve damage or brain trauma such as surgery, stroke, etc. can cause confusion and nerve damage thus resulting in changes in sensation.
With the change in sensation, sometimes it is difficult for a senior to tell the difference between temperature changes. They could potentially turn the water on too hot and risk burns or even bear the risk in changing outside temperatures and be at risk from frostbite or hypothermia. This is where it is good to have a caregiver present – to ensure that the client is safe from themselves based on health conditions such as the ones just described.
Although it is hard to believe, reducing the sense of touch can be dangerous in many possible ways. Another way is if the client cannot detect vibrations, touch or pressure. All of these losses increase the risk of further injuries. One such risk is that of pressure ulcers.
Once many people reach the age of 50, they have a reduced sensitivity to pain. Where this is the bodies way of helping people cope with other aging discrepancies such as arthritis or bone breakage, it can be dangerous in that pain may be felt but not fully realized; meaning a person can feel pain but the pain doesn’t bother them, so they persist in what they are doing and cause a more severe injury.
Another thing to look out for in your clients is that if there is an injury and pain is not realized, your client may favor one limb or another thus causing harm to other parts of the body. They may have a harder time walking because of this since they have a difficult time perceiving where the floor is. This increases the risk of falls and bone breaks.
These are just a few of the issues that caregivers must look out for in order to show their clients that With Age Comes Respect. Tomorrow I will continue this discussion and more things to be aware of if your client has a decreased sensitivity that limits their sense of touch.