close up of elderly mans eyes

The human body changes as we age, including our senses. Through time, they may not perform as well as they once did. This can result from hormones, nerve cells, or brain function. Because humans rely on their senses to interact with the world around them, any degradation can be frustrating. So, it only makes sense to want to take measures to prevent or at least reduce age-related sensory degradation.

There are quite a few lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the effects of age-related sensory degradation. From making sense of nutritional needs for seniors to simple at-home tips, here are some ways to help keep your senses sharp as you age.

How Do Senses Degrade With Age?

Although there are ways to prevent the extent of sensory degradation, the process is an inevitable part of aging and a lot of the population is familiar with it. Surveys show that nearly all seniors are worried about their vision or hearing as they age. The National Institute of Aging indicates that one in three people between the ages of 65 to 74 experience some degree of hearing loss and 92% of respondents in an AARP survey were concerned about experiencing eye health conditions as they age.

However, sense degradation can go beyond eye and ear problems. Here are some of the most common ways your senses may change with age:

Though this may seem scary, these changes don’t have to be debilitating. 

How Can You Protect Your Senses as You Age?

The first step in protecting your senses is understanding how senses change with age. Once you know what to expect, you can take steps to prevent or reduce the effects of age-related sensory degradation.

You can do many things to protect your senses as a whole as you age, such as:

However, you can also take specific actions to protect each sense individually. 

Sight

As you age, your eyesight may start to deteriorate, which can become apparent during activities like driving and reading when you use your sight for focusing. Although your sight can deteriorate at any age, these are the most common-age related sight issues: 

However, there are a few things that you can do to protect your eyes:

Touch

The effects of aging on touch are not as well known as those on sight and hearing. However, research has shown that the sense of touch does change with age. These changes can make it difficult to know if something is hot or cold. They can also make it hard to detect pain leading to injuries.

There are a few things that you can do to protect your sense of touch:

With healthy skin, active muscles, and well-nourished nerves, you can help to keep your sense of touch sharp.

Hearing

In addition to sight, losing your hearing is a common experience among older adults. It can make it hard to follow conversations and enjoy activities such as watching TV or watching movies. While you may think there is only one type of hearing loss, there are three:

Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to protect your hearing:

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Though the aging process cannot be stopped, these tips will prolong the health of your senses.

Taste/Smell

The ability to taste and smell can decline with age. This can make food less enjoyable and make it hard to detect dangerous gases or fumes. However, losing these senses is usually gradual and not a cause for concern.

Losing your sense of smell is due to a loss of olfactory receptors. More than 75% of those older than 80 suffer major olfactory impairment. Thus their ability to detect strong smells, such as smoke or gas, is significantly reduced.

Taste buds also naturally decrease with age. This is because the tongue thins and loses papillae, bumps that house taste buds. In addition, saliva production decreases, making it harder for the tongue to move food around and pick up flavor molecules.

However, don’t feel panicked. There are a few ways to protect your sense of taste and smell:

The aging process can take a toll on the body, especially the senses. However, these preventative measures you can take to protect your senses and enjoy your favorite activities for years to come.