What Happens to Your Senses as You Age?

Bodily changes are a normal and expected part of getting older. But when and how does age affect our five common senses? Read on and find out.

1. Presbyopia After Age 40

Have you ever wondered why many elders can’t thread a needle and often hold books and menus at arm’s length? Well, nearly all older adults are farsighted.

After age 40, our eyes cannot actively focus on objects less than two feet away because of changes in eye lenses.

If close up tasks have become a bother, visit an eye doctor. If you have developed presbyopia, the optician may recommend reading glasses or bifocals if you’re already on glasses.

2. Anosmia After Age 60

If you’re older than 30 but younger than 60 and don’t smoke or have an ENT problem, you likely have a keen sense of smell. After age 60, you can expect some loss of sensitivity in the way you detect or identify odors.

Anosmia can be both dangerous and embarrassing. It can be dangerous if you can’t detect a gas leak or sour milk. It may embarrass if you don’t notice your body odor or your excessive perfume.

Talk to your health care provider about any changes if you can’t smell or you have noticed a change in the way familiar things smell.

3. Dull Taste Buds After 50

Women over the age of 50 and men over the age of 60 often report losing some of their intensity of taste or their ability to distinguish distinct tastes.

You may lose your sense of taste if your aging taste buds don’t regenerate fast enough. Nasal and sinus problems, smoking, dentures, and certain medications may also affect your sense of taste.

Your sense of taste affects the way you eat. Consult a doctor if eating has become less enjoyable, you often complain about taste issues or you have developed an unusual eating habit.

4. Problems Hearing Higher-Pitched Voices

hearing test

Do you hear men’s voices better than women’s and children’? It may also take you longer to notice your phone is ringing or your microwave is beeping.

Like a third of persons over age 60, the hairs in your ear may have become less sensitive. The inability to hear high-pitched noises indicates presbycusis, age-related hearing loss.

If your hearing impairment is significant, your ear doctor may recommend hearing aids, assistive devices, or training in speech-reading. Also, visit an ENT clinic to see if you have excess wax in your outer ear.

5. Less Sensitivity

Reduced circulation and changes in your skin may impair your sense of touch. You may become less aware of temperatures and small motor skills may become challenging.

Talk to your doctor about diminished sensitivity, especially if you live with diabetes, arthritis, or vascular disease.

Some sensory decline is part of aging. However, aging should be subtle and gradual. Therefore, if you notice sudden sensory changes, see a doctor immediately as this impairment may be a symptom of a serious health problem. The doctor will confirm if the changes are normal and if so help you live with age-related sensory decline.

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