We have all heard it said time and time again that age does no favors for the body. However, a new study has revealed to the extent these age related sensory deficits prevail.
The results are staggering- with more than 94% of the 3000 people aged 58-85 involved in the study suffering from a reduced capacity of the senses, be it one or a combination of multiple senses.
40% of the participants had issues with two senses, while 28% experienced reduced capacity in 3 or more senses.
These findings are important in identifying the likely dangers seniors may be exposed to, such as burns from loss of touch sensitivity, smoke inhalation from diminished sense of smell, or even poisoning from inability to sufficiently discern bad food or other toxic material.
By far, the most common sensory decline reported was of taste, of which almost 75% of participants reported decreases in sensitivity. Following that was the decline of sensory touch, reported by 38% of participants, and which is particularly dangerous given the prevalence of diabetic nerve disorders in the elderly.
It is not uncommon for an elderly person to carry around an open wound for weeks before being discovered, at which point it is now extremely difficult to manage. The result is often amputation of the affected limb.
A few beliefs were proven during the study, whose results were published in the Journal of The American Geriatrics Society, including the fact that older participants experienced the most defects in sensory perception, men had worse hearing, smelling and taste, but better vision than women, and also that blacks experienced greater declines than all other races in all senses except hearing.
The causes of sensory decline are numerous, but most often come about as a result of natural nerve degradation, environmental influences, and hereditary traits passed on through generations.
Special: Intervations Can Make A Huge Difference
Without a doubt the effects of these sensory deficits can be far reaching, affecting everything from the individual’s memory and motor skills, to financial burden on the caregivers.
Small interventions that can be made may actually slow down the rate of decline, by giving the brain reason to continue working. These may include:
- Using Hearing Aids
- Reading Glasses
- Adding Vivid Spices To Foods
And even more not mentioned. The key is to keep sensory function as close to baseline as possible, in an effort to force the body to realize the importance of sensory retention.
Interestingly, a study that was conducted at the University of Florida linked the inability to smell peanut butter to a high likelihood of Alzheimer’s development, a cheap and effective way of making contingency plans for a disease likely on the horizon.
SOURCE: University of Chicago Medical Center, news release, Feb 2016