Aging and the Five SensesJuly 3, 2018
One of the reasons we seek assisted living and senior care services is because as we age, many of our physical functions are simply not how they used to be. We may require a little help and support getting around. In some cases there might be things that were once not an issue but have now become cumbersome tasks.
Over the course of this blog, we’re going to elaborate a little on how aging affects our five senses as well as certain things we should be aware of.
The Effect of Aging on the Senses
As we grow older, our senses to dim to an extent. There is no standard yardstick here. Variation in how much ones senses deteriorate has a lot to do with lifestyle as well as genetics. This being said, there are a few problems that commonly occur in most seniors that we wish to address.
For the purpose of clarity we’re going to go over the five senses one at a time and discuss how aging affects each.
One of the obvious sensory losses that come with old age involves sight. Losing sight with old age is a little different from the visual impairments one may suffer in their younger years.
Generally speaking there are a few reasons why the sight of many old people tends to deteriorate. One includes a reduction in muscle tone in the areas surrounding the eye. This in turn leads to deterioration in eyesight as focusing becomes difficult.
Another thing that happens with age is that our tear ducts cease to function as efficiently as they used to. A lack of lubrication can inevitably lead to problems and irritation of the eye.
Other sight related problems that come with age include loss of sight due to glaucoma and formation of cataracts to name a few.
The auditory nerve, which is responsible for our ability to hear, changes as we age. As a result of this, we hear sounds differently. Another thing that happens is due to deterioration of other nerves and synapses associated with hearing, we might lose our ability to pick up on certain frequencies. That being said, hearing impairments like those of sight are usually well addressed.
Apart from trouble with circulation in the system or incidental nerve damage, we lose sensitivity when it comes to touch regardless. In most cases, in the absence of a particular condition or the situations mentioned above, this is due to thickening of the skin. In combination with the general age based nerve deterioration that occurs, this results in a decreased ability to feel things as we used to physically.
Though our sense of taste does change a little as we age, for the most part, this is one of the senses that you can actually keep sharp. Certain lifestyle choices like smoking and excessive drinking might lead to taste bud deterioration however for the most part, our sense of taste is one we can maintain much better than other senses.
That being said; study shows our understanding of problems with taste as well as those with smell is yet quite limited.
As with taste, our knowledge of how smell deteriorates with age is not as astute as it is when it comes to other senses. What we do know is that the senses of both smell as well as taste are closely linked. What we also know is like with our other senses, nerve deterioration within the nose, the sinus in particular results in a loss in the sharpness of our ability to smell.
Unfortunately, aging is something we can’t avoid and with it, certain changes that occur within our bodies physically. What we can do however is educate ourselves, be aware of what is happening to us and take the precautions necessary to help us live as well as we can in our later years.
It also helps to sometimes make lifestyle adjustments that help slow down this natural physical deterioration and function as fully as possible.
If you need any more advice or support with regard to senior care and assisted living in or around the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, our consultancy and elder care service firm would be glad to help!