Wednesday Workshop – How Alzheimer’s Disease Affects the 5 Senses
Hello and welcome to Wednesday Workshop. If you are caregiver, you realize, or soon will, that the level and type of care needed by a person with Alzheimer’s disease is ever changing. You will experience “good days” and “bad days” and, as the disease progresses, new symptoms may appear and/or old ones worsen. Being flexible and patient with a person with Alzheimer’s is a must.
As the caregiver, it is important that you keep in mind that the disease affects the brain directly and the body indirectly. A person who suffers from Alzheimer’s may be physically healthy otherwise, but due to the deterioration of certain parts of the brain, the body doesn’t respond as it should.
Here are some guidelines and safety tips in regards to the degeneration of the five senses and how it will affect the person with Alzheimer’s disease:
There may be nothing physically wrong with the eyes of your loved one; however the brains ability to interpret the images may be decreased. This can cause confusion, disorientation and the inability to recognize familiar people or places.
A few tips to manage this decline would be to:
• Create color contrast between floors and walls to create visual “depth”.
• Mark the edges of steps and stairs with brightly colored strips of tape to identify height changes.
• Place brightly colored signs or simple pictures on doors for easier identification.
It is very common for smell to be the first sense affected by Alzheimer’s disease. In most cases, it is noticed before the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has been made. It is important to keep refrigerators clear of spoiled food.
If you’ve ever noticed that when you nose is stuffy due to a cold or infection, your sense of taste is greatly decreased. The loss of smell plus the added decrease in taste bud sensitivity, can really affect the way your loved one tastes things. There is also the danger of confusion, leading them to place hazardous items in their mouths. Some simple recommendations would be to lock up cleaning supplies and consider learning the Heimlich maneuver in case of an emergency.
As in the case of the eyes, a person could test as having perfect hearing, but not be able to process sounds. This can lead to agitation, confusion or over stimulation. You should avoid excessive noise in the home and avoid large gatherings of people.
As with all of the others senses, sensitivity in touch decreases. Depending on how severe the loss is, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may not be able to recognize being cold or hot or even being in pain. Many of the steps recommended are similar to childproofing your house. Things to consider:
• Color code water faucet handles.
• Place warning signs on the oven and other appliances that get hot.
• Cover corners of furniture with padding.
If you have questions or would like more information, contact the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center
Feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!