Our five senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell – can gradually fade as we get older. While this can be a natural part of aging, certain lifestyle factors may increase the risk of losing our senses. Here are just a few things you can do to keep your senses sharp later in life.
5 Ways to Keep Your Senses Sharp Later In Life
Smoking can damage our senses by restricting blood flow to nerve endings, causing these receptors to die. It’s also been linked to many specific diseases, which can damage the senses. It can lead to a higher risk of cataracts for example, causing possible blindness. Chemicals in cigarettes can meanwhile directly cause damage to taste buds and nasal receptors, affecting our sense of taste and smell.
Packing in your smoking habit could keep your senses sharp, or at least sharpen them up a little bit. Even reducing the amount you smoke could make a significant difference. There is lots of support out there and lots of different methods of quitting to try – sites like Quit Genius may be able to help.
Chronic stress has also been linked to nerve damage. When stressed, our blood pressure increases and our body stays constantly alert which puts a strain on nerve endings. It has been strongly linked to hearing loss and has links with vision loss too.
Whilst stress triggers are not always avoidable, you should try to make time in your life to de-stress. Taking a hot bath, listening to music, exercising (such as yoga) and meditating are all great forms of stress relief that are worth trying.
Eat the right foods
There are certain foods that can be healthy (and others that can be unhealthy) for our senses. Fish and nuts are known to be full of omega 3 and vitamin D, which can be beneficial for our sense of sight and hearing. Shellfish and legumes meanwhile are a great source of zinc, which is essential for our sense of taste and smell. As for fruit and vegetables, these are high vitamin A and antioxidants which are beneficial to all our senses.
Eating the wrong foods could damage the senses. Too much sugar and fat can lead to diabetes, which is known for its negative impact on the senses. Diabetes can dull our sense of taste and lead to a form of blindness called diabetic retinopathy. High blood pressure from being overweight can meanwhile damage our sense of touch – it can cause neuropathy in the hands and feet, causing tingling and numbness.
By keeping to a healthy diet of natural foods, low fat and low sugar, you could help to preserve your senses.
Exercise is good for blood circulation, which can help nerve endings get the blood flow and nutrients they need. Just like healthy dieting, it can also help you lose weight – reducing the risk of sensory damaging conditions like diabetes.
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, try to make an effort of incorporate small amounts of exercise into your day whether it’s going for a long walk on your lunch break or going to the gym in the morning. Even exercises such as yoga or pilates can help get your blood flowing and keep your senses sharp.
Know when to wear protective equipment
There are situations where it’s wise to wear equipment to protect the senses. Exposure to certain things may cause sensory overload, killing off nerve ending more progressively.
You should always protect your vision from bright light. UV light from the sun can increase the risk of eye diseases like cataracts – wearing sunglasses on a sunny day is an easy way to prevent this. You should also wear eye protection when using industrial equipment involving lasers (sparks and other debri from certain processes could also damage your eyes and you should always wear protective goggles or a mask in these cases).
As for your sense of hearing, loud noise exposure can cause the biggest risk of damage. If you work on a construction site, in a nightclub, at a music venue or in an airport, you should always wear earplugs or over-ear protection. Wearing earplugs at loud events in your leisure time such as motorsports events and concerts is also worthwhile.
Use sufficient lighting
It’s not just too much light you have to worry about when it comes to your vision – working in lighting that is too dim could also damage your eyes by causing strain and leading to macular deterioration. If you’re reading or looking at a screen, make sure that there is sufficient lighting.
Keep the volume down
Many of us listen to music too loudly and this can cause direct damage to the ears. Any prolonged noise that causes ringing in the ears is too loud – keep your music to a healthy level, especially if you’re using headphones. Most modern phones can warn you if you’re listening to music too loudly.
Go for regular tests and health checks
Getting health checks can help you to stay guarded against conditions that could damage the senses. You should go to the doctor if you experience any unusual pain or numbness around the eyes, ears, nose or mouth.
Hearing tests can be useful for keeping your hearing in check. If you’re experience hearing loss, a hearing aid could help to return things back to normal and prevent further damage. Modern hearing aid manufacturers such as Miracle-Ear now have devices that can block out background noise – you could improve your sense of hearing and improve your sense of well-being with Miracle-Ear. There are also hearing aids that can help battle tinnitus.
Sight tests meanwhile can help you to protect your vision. By wearing the right prescription lenses, you can restore your vision and prevent further damage from eye strain. On top of glasses, there’s the option of contact lenses and even possibly laser eye treatment. Protecting one’s vision has never been easier.