My purpose was to help people understand sensory difficulties and how it affects the elderly and how it impacts our role as a healthcare assistant. Sensory problems are the largest source of diminished health accounting for over one quarter of the burden of ill health. It is believed that there is a constant need in people to perceive through the senses and that when the senses are blocked there is a negative impact on their mental health. To help communication with elders we need to look at the ways to help ease the sensory problems faced by them. The decline of senses such as taste and smell can make life miserable for the person concerned as it affects the diet and eating habits making them weak and fragile. Losing the sense of touch sight or hearing can partially lead to dangerous situations and result in the person getting injured. The main topics I talked about were taste and hearing and how as healthcare assistants can help ease the burden faced by our patients. Often we can find an elderly patient complaining about the food being unappetising or having an unpleasant taste, this has nothing to do with the food but with the decline in taste sensitivity due to ageing. As we all know there are four main tastes: sweet sour salty and bitter. A normal person has 9000 taste buds but diminish greatly in old age. This does not immediately lead to reduced taste sensitivity but coupled with atrophy of the remaining taste buds and reduced saliva production it may induce a loss of taste. This is hastened if the elderly person smokes or is suffering from diseases like Alzheimer’s. If a patient loses interest in their food they can become weak and fatigued. To help our patients we make even small changes such as adding more spices or flavourings to their meals in preparation or even a change in the way their food is presented can help.
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