The aging process affects the five senses. As people age, the ability to hear or see clearly as well as taste, smell or feel things properly declines. This has a tremendous effect on the life quality for senior people seeking San Antonio independent living or independent living elsewhere in the world. Nevertheless, it is good to know that some of the age-related conditions can be corrected if detected in time.
Changes in the five senses that affect residents of San Antonio independent living
Below is a detailed breakdown of some of the changes that occur to the senses as the body ages:
1. Changes in Vision
Reflected light waves from objects enable us to see. The light waves reflected from an objects pass through the cornea, pupil, eye lens, retina and the optic nerve for them to be registered as images by the brain. There are some defects which come with age that might disrupt the process. Most age related vision problems are associated with the reduction in the size of the pupil. Other factors include;
- Decreased eye lubrication; a decrease in eye lubrication is linked to the malfunctioning of the lacrimal gland that produces protective tears responsible for lubrication. This leads to the dry eye syndrome.
- Reduced muscle tone; in this case, the muscles that control eye movement become defective as one gets older. This can lead to blepharoptosis which impairs vision.
- Eye diseases: Some of these eye diseases include glaucoma, cataracts, presbyopia, night blindness and macular degeneration.
2. Changes in Hearing
We are able to hear due to the vibration of eardrum caused by sound waves. However, as you get older, you become prone to hearing loss. This is linked to the gradual breakdown of nerve networks and intricate structures within the middle and inner ear. Some of the factors that contribute to hearing problems later in life are exposure to loud sounds and smoking. Below are some hearing problems related to age:
- Presbycusis —Occurs as a result of the changes in the auditory nerve making it difficult of one to interpret high-frequency sounds.
- Tinnitus — Tinnitus leads to ringing in the ear and a sense of spinning.
3. Changes in Taste and Smell
While the sense of smell identifies odors and aromas, the sense of taste distinguished between sweet, bitter or sour. The two distinct senses are vital for survival and a better quality of life. Nonetheless, the body experiences a reduction in the keenness of the smell and taste senses as senior years draw in. If the two senses diminish, the result would be; reduced appetite and poor nutrition in the long run. The sense of taste may be affected by:
- Tooth decay
- Mouth sores
- Poor daily mouth care
- Certain medications and treatments such as chemotherapy
- Poor nutrition
The sense of smell on the other hand may be affected by factors such as:
- Poor nasal hygiene
- Diseases affecting the nose
- Certain medications or treatments
4. Changes in Touch
The sense of touch helps the body to identify and distinguish between pleasurable or painful, hard and soft as well as hot or cold. This is possible due to nerves receptors that are linked to the central nervous system. As the body gets older, the sense of touch also becomes less sensitive. Below are factors that contribute to this:
- Deterioration of the outer skin or epidermis; the wearing out of collagen and elastin makes the outer skin to become thinner, drier and less sensitive to stimuli.
- Certain drugs and treatment
- Nerve damage
- Skin damage
- Poor blood circulation
- Neural disorders
All the five senses of the body have a vital role in our survival. Our quality of life will definitely be affected if any of the senses tend to diminish. This particularly affects the lives of seniors who seek to live independently as it might put them at the risk of injury, malnutrition and general health deterioration. Thus, seniors should always consult their doctors if they experience any drastic changes in their hearing, smell, taste, touch or vision.