Sensory Gerontological Changes

Changes occur in the older adult population in the sensory system. Affecting vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell, and balance occur gradually.

Nursing Diagnosis:
Disturbed sensory perception
Risk for injury
Social Isolation

Vision -
Reduced tear production
Presbyopia - decrease in the ability to accomodate near vision
Arcus senils - white ring encircling cornea
Cataract - Progressive clouding of lens of the eye
Glaucoma - primary open-angle glaucoma 80-90% increased intraocular pressure leading to tunnel vision
Acute angle-closure glaucoma - emergency vision loss in 2 days if not addressed

Nursing Interventions:
Interventions to assist with sensory loss
Encourage social interaction
Bright colors and large print, visual and nonvisual aids, large print books, recorded books, lighted mirror
Describe environment to patient, clock for plate
Regular eye exams, glasses if appropriate, do not rub eyes, artificial tears, assist with eye drop administration
Diminished eyesight affects independence, leads to a lack of stimulation, inability to read, fear of blindness

Presbycusis - decrease in hearing acuity
High pitch hearing goes first
Difficult to discriminate tones

Nursing Interventions:
Lower voice to speak
Auditory cues
Written materials
Face client so can see lips and see expression
Decrease background noise
Hearing loss can affect socialization, create isolation

What it's like to be hard of hearing

How to communicate well with the elderly and deaf

Taste and smell:
Taste buds decrease in number and sensitivity
Unknown if smell is affected
Use stronger spices

Potter, P. A., & Perry, A. G. (2009). Fundamentals of Nursing (7th ed.). St. Louis, Missouri: Mosby Elsevier.

Vision Impairments

What it's like not to hear