Touchy, Touchy: Why Touch Can Change As We Age.
Like our other senses, touch too can change as we age.
Touch creates awareness of pleasure, pain, temperature, pressure, body position, and alerts us when our physical condition isn’t quite right. As we age, decreased blood flow to nerve endings, caused by chronic disease, brain changes or nutrient deficiencies, can alter the sense of touch.
Changes in temperature become less perceptible, increasing the risk of injury from burns, frostbite or hypothermia, and a decreased ability to sense minor abrasions or pressure increases the risk of wounds. Injuries may be more severe than we realize because the pain doesn’t seem bad.
If you’ve noticed changes in how you experience touch, pain, or have problems standing or walking, talk with your health care provider. To stay safe, consider:
- Lowering your water heater temperature to less than 125°F (51°C) to avoid burns;
- Checking the thermometer to decide how to dress, rather than waiting until you feel overheated or chilled;
- Regularly inspecting your skin, especially feet, for injuries, and if you find one, treat it. Don’t assume it’s not serious because it’s not painful;
- If you’re diabetic, always wear something on your feet, even indoors, to protect yourself from injury.