As sight and hearing becomes less sharp, you are increasingly at risk of falls and other accidents. They also bring a lot of the pleasures of life, from the enjoyment of music, TV, books or a good conversation, to the satisfaction of a tasty meal. Whatever the cause of sensory loss, there’s quite a lot you can do to prevent their decline or help combat it once it happens.
Sight changes as you age
As you reach your 40s you start to develop changes in your vision, even if your sight was previously good. This is called presbyopia and occurs because of changes in the tissues of the eye, After a decade or two presbyopia stabilises and there’s no further deterioration in close vision.
Glare may also become a problem as changes within the lens causes light entering the eye to be scattered rather than focused precisely. You find the colour perception dims and it becomes harder to distinguish different shades. At the same time a variety of eye diseases and other conditions start to become more common and may also cause problems with vision, including – Glaucoma, Cataracts, Diabetes and High blood pressure; Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which causes loss of central vision.
Hearing changes with age:Hearing changes from childhood and deteriorates with age. Up to a third of people between 65 and 75, and half of the over 75s have problems with deafness, usually in both ears.
The age-related decline in hearing is called presbyacusis and it’s usually due to degeneration of the hearing nerves and organs of the inner ear.
Keeping your balance as you age: A decline in your ability to balance means that one in three people over 65 fall each year, accounting for nearly 90 per cent of broken bones and many serious injuries and deaths.
Taste and smell changes as you age: Your sense of taste and smell are closely linked and both may fade with age. Diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, polyps in the nose, or head injury can play a part, while many drugs and medicines can interfere with taste and smell.
You need smell to detect hazards such as smoke, but also for the pleasure of eating – many older people lose interest in food partly because they lose this pleasure.
To tackle age-related changes in taste and smell, make sure you:
- Regularly brush and floss your teeth and get your dentist to check your oral health as a dry mouth or gum disease can interfere with taste.
- If you smoke, try to quit; you’ll notice an improvement in the taste and smell of food.
Change the sort of food you eat – try out different herbs and spices.