Regular check-ups become more important as we age. Staying on top of symptoms with a general practitioner or geriatrician can help pinpoint important changes in sensory loss. Remember regular appointments with the dentist and eye doctor as well. Occupational therapists play an important role to help individuals adapt to certain losses including vision.
2. Eat like your life depends on it.
A poor diet can jeopardize health and contribute to a decline in senses. For example, a diet lacking antioxidant vitamins or too much junk food has been linked to cataracts and macular degeneration.
The sun provides important Vitamin D that can boost our health, but did you know that lifelong exposure to the sun could cause cataracts. Wear sunglasses to protect eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
5. Turn down the volume.
Seniors and Boomers grew up with 60s and 70s rock and roll music. If you don’t want to have to turn up the volume as you get older, crank it down now and avoid other loud noises. Take a break from loud noises every 15 minutes and minimize the risk of hearing damage by wearing ear plugs. Musicians’ ear plugs can reduce the volume of music without muffling it.
The importance of sense of touch has been verified by research. One study reports that brain scans have revealed that touch activates the orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region associated with learning and decision-making as well as with emotional and social behaviors. “Kiss and hug, or pet a dog,” notes Home Instead Senior Care® Gerontologist Lakelyn Hogan. “Human contact is so important in helping to prevent isolation and depression that can accompany aging.”
9. Protect your head and sinuses.
Head injuries and sinus infections are leading causes of smell decline, which could also lead to problems with taste. So it’s important to prevent them as much as possible and treat them promptly if they do occur, says Alan Hirsch, M.D., neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. “Always wear your seatbelt—head trauma is the No. 1 cause of loss of smell,” he says. And use a saline nasal rinse regularly to prevent mucus build-up and reduce the risk of fungal and bacterial infections that can compromise your sense of smell.
10. Get help when you need it.
Consider home care to help mitigate the impact of sensory loss. Assistance at home could keep seniors who are suffering from loss of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch independent longer.