Appreciating the majesty of a radiant sunset, taking in the sweet smell of the summer roses or listening to the melodious sounds of the birds first thing in the morning are just some of the wonderful experiences we can all enjoy thanks to our senses.
According to research, sensory loss affects 94% of older adults in the United States who experience at least one sensory deficit. Losing the quality of one or more of your senses can significantly affect your enjoyment of life and lead to mobility problems, challenges with everyday activities as well as negatively impact your mental and emotional wellbeing.
In this article, we will look at some of the ways you can care for your senses, ensuring they are healthy and strong for all your days to come.
Your sense of sight is arguably one of the most important senses you have, allowing you to take in images of the world around you. As most of our sensory input is visual, taking care of your vision is essential to being able to enjoy a good quality of life. Below are some of the ways you can support this important sense to help it work optimally.
- Eat the Right Foods: Consuming a diet that contains nutrients that support your eye health is key to maintaining healthy vision throughout your life. This includes vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein, omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, green leafy vegetables and nuts.
- Wear Sunglasses: Just like your skin, your eyes can get damaged from exposure to the sun so it is important to wear sunglasses with UV protection on sunny days.
- Limit Your Screen Time: Staring at a screen all day can put strain on your eyes making them dry and irritated. This is because we all blink much less when focusing on a screen, so it is important to take breaks. Digital devices also emit a blue light, which can cause retinal damage so it is worth investing in blue light filter glasses which are designed to block out some of the blue light that reaches your eye.
- Eye Exercises: Eye exercises can help you maintain optimal vision in your eyes by increasing blood flow to the eyes and making your eye muscles more flexible. Doing these exercises daily can help improve your vision, focus and concentration.
Hearing is one of the first senses many of us expect to diminish over time. However, this need not be the case if you look after your sense of sound by taking steps to ward off hearing loss.
- Avoid Exposure to Loud Noise: Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused through sources such as loud music, drilling, fireworks and ambulance sirens so it is important to protect your ears from exposure to loud noises that could damage your hearing. When listening to music or the TV, keep the volume at a comfortable level and where needed, wear protective items such as earplugs or earmuffs.
- Eat Well: Eating foods that are rich in certain vitamins and minerals can help your sense of hearing. A large study published in 2018 which involved over 70,000 women and spanned 22 years studied the effects of three different diets. The study found there was a positive link between eating a healthy diet and the reduced risk of hearing loss.
- Consult a Specialist: If you feel your hearing has diminished, it is important to consult your doctor or visit a specialist hearing clinic such as Helix Hearing Care to avoid your symptoms worsening.
- Check Your Medicines: According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), there are over 200 medications, known as ototoxic medications, that can damage hearing. Review your medication or ask your doctor if any medications you are on can impair your hearing. If so, ask if an alternative, non-ototoxic medication is available instead.
Taste and Smell
These two senses are both chemical senses and are very much connected. It is thought that somewhere between 75% and 95% of what we consider as taste actually comes from our sense of smell. It is important, therefore, to do what you can to protect both of these senses.
- Try New Dishes: Eating new cuisines and sampling foreign flavors can help keep your taste buds sharp. Experimenting with different herbs, spices and diverse flavors can also reduce your reliance on excessive salt in your meals, helping to lower blood pressure and improve your overall health.
- Maintain Oral Hygiene: Poor dental hygiene can cause problems with your teeth and gums which can in turn, affect your sense of taste and smell. Maintain good oral hygiene habits such as brushing and flossing to help keep these senses healthy.
- Stay Off Cigarettes: Smoking is detrimental to your overall health, and can also cause problems with your sense of taste. According to statistics, smokers are six times more likely than non-smokers to have a poor sense of smell.
Your sense of touch is determined by the touch receptors in your skin, so caring for your skin as well as taking measures to support your nervous system can support this vital sense.
- Physical Exercise: Circulatory issues can affect your sense of touch, so it is important to do activities that can improve your circulation. This includes aerobic exercises such as swimming, jogging, cycling and dancing.
- Practice Good Skincare: Wash your skin daily and keep it well moisturized. When outdoors, make sure to apply a good quality sunscreen to prevent sun damage, and keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water each day.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: Proper nutrition is essential for the health of your skin and sense of touch. A well-balanced diet that incorporates foods such as green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, broccoli and eggs is good for your brain and nervous system, as well as the health of your skin.
- Protect Your Skin: Avoid contact with solvents and harsh chemicals, which can burn away the cells on the surface of your skin, making them less sensitive to touch.
Now that you know how to protect and care for each of your five senses, you can enjoy the gifts they bring to your life for as long as possible.