Senses Playing Tricks? How Alzheimer's Affects Sense of Touch

As Alzheimer’s progresses, you usually expect your loved one to have more difficulty with their memory. However, this is not the only way that Alzheimer’s can impact the brain. Over time, the person’s senses can weaken. It’s more difficult to see contrasting colors, interpret noises, detect aromas, identify different flavors, and distinguish differences in touch. When your loved one’s senses are affected, they may have difficulty in detecting dangerous situations. 

“When our aging parents have Alzheimer’s, their reduction in sense can worsen over time,” says Donna Mulligan, Community Relations Director of YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens. “While they may have problems with touch, there are processes that can reintroduce touch, which can help your loved one’s overall wellbeing.”

Your knowledge about Alzheimer’s and sensory reduction can help you notice possible dangers and also how you can make touch a focus of your loved one’s routine.

How Does Alzheimer’s Reduce Sense of Touch?

Think about all the items you make contact with through a simple morning routine. You turn on the hot water for a shower, you dry off with a soft, fluffy towel, feel the bristles of your toothbrush cleaning your teeth, and you’re on to starting your day. But when you turned the shower on, you may have noticed that the water was too hot, and you had to find a temperature that was safe. While this is a simple fix, those with Alzheimer’s may not be able to detect these temperature differences. 

When your loved one cannot feel if water is scalding, a stove top is hot, they could be in danger of burn injuries. If they’re in a cold room and should increase the heat, they may not notice that they’re too cold and need to warm up. This reduced sense of touch also impedes their body’s ability to indicate that they are in pain or have hurt themselves.

To increase your loved one’s safety, consider labeling faucets red for hot and blue for cold. Having signs to show that appliances are hot can also keep your loved one safer at home. 

Incorporating Touch to Stimulate Sensation

Regularly using touch can be an activity for you to help your spouse enjoy the tactile feeling of different, sensory-rich materials. Feeling old leather books, smooth sea shells, or familiar knicknacks can create a fun, active experience. 

Other ways to promote feeling include hand massages with essential oils. This action is centered on touch and also engages your loved one’s sense of smell. 

When you provide your loved one with notable objects with varying textures and have them focus on the task of simply touching, the experience can be soothing. This helps ease feelings of anxiety, stress and may boost your loved one’s mood.

What other ways can you engage your loved one’s sense of touch? There are limitless possibilities. If your loved one loves gardening, touching the soil, delicate seeds, and flowering plants are all things they can experience. You and your loved one create these special moments each day.  

Learn More About YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens 

At Your Life of Palm Beach Gardens, we’re dedicated to providing our residents with a senior living community where they can lead an inspired, engaged, and fulfilled life. Our community provides high quality memory care to many of our residents, but we also offer options for independent and assisted living as well. There’s a place for everyone here. 

If you’re concerned about your loved one’s memory, we can help. Call us today to find out more about our private memory screenings.