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Your sensible guide to sensory changes

It’s just a fact of getting older. You may not see or hear as well as you did 10 years ago. That cashmere sweater doesn’t feel as soft against your skin, and you no longer enjoy the taste of sweets. Even your favorite perfume has lost its potency.

There are many ways to perk up your five senses, which may begin to wane as you grow older. Read on to learn more about how to keep in tune with sensory changes.

Pamper your peepers

As you age, the shape of your eye lens changes. You may have problems focusing on objects at different distances. You may also need more light to read and may have trouble distinguishing between navy and black.

To ensure that your eyes remain as healthy as possible, see your eye care physician regularly. Glasses, contacts and laser surgery are all options for improving vision.

What’s that you say?

Although selective hearing can be a blessing, it becomes a problem when you actually want to talk on the phone or enjoy a good movie.

Beginning at middle age, loss of hearing is very gradual. Voices and other sounds may become muffled because of the diminished elasticity of the eardrum. If hearing is no longer music to your ears, talk with your doctor. A hearing aid may help.

Out of touch

Our sense of touch can become less intense as we age. That’s because the skin’s sensitivity decreases as it becomes less taut.

Since you may not feel pain as quickly as you did before, you could become more severely injured if you cut or burn yourself. Be extra careful when doing tasks.

Tastes so good

That cup of coffee just doesn’t taste the same. At age 30, a person has 245 taste buds on each of the tiny elevations (called papilla) on the tongue. By age 70, a mere 85 taste buds remain.

You may now have the urge to sweeten your coffee, which could be a problem if you are on a sugar-restricted diet. For older persons, normal seasoning on foods may also seem bland. Try switching to potent herbs that add flavor without calories or sodium.

Ah, the aroma

Minimal changes take place in the sense of smell up until age 70. A sudden change in this sense could result from an accident or an illness.

Along with enjoying the smell of a rose, our nose often warns us of the dangers of fire or leaking gas. If you have trouble with smells, talk with your doctor about possible causes and treatments.

When will your senses most likely begin to change?

  • Taste—mid 60s
  • Vision—mid 50s
  • Hearing—mid 40s
  • Smell—mid 70s
  • Touch—mid 50s