Signs That You Are Getting Older

August 20, 2023

Certain physical and mental changes are normal as you age. Even so, you may find yourself asking, “Am I just getting older, or should I be concerned about my health?” While it never hurts to call your physician when you’re concerned about an ailment, knowing what to expect as you get older will help ease your mind and reduce stress. It can also help you enjoy a healthier body and mind as you’ll be able to be more proactive at preventing or delaying these common signs of aging.

Taste Buds Decrease

You were born with nine thousand taste buds that work with your sense of smell to detect tastes. As you near 40 or 50, your taste buds decrease, and those that do remain shrink and lose mass. Beyond 60, you may begin to lose your sense of taste entirely or, at the very least, have a difficult time differentiating between sweet, salty, sour, and bitter foods.

Though the exact cause of this decline in the taste buds is not known, it likely has something to do with how frequently these sensory cells must regenerate. Normally, the tastes buds replace themselves every one to two weeks. With age, though, the taste buds may be less capable of regenerating and result in fewer taste buds and a dulled sense of taste.

The real concern, however, is the impact this change has on your nutrition. Many older individuals may find themselves eating less simply because food does not have the same draw it once did. There may not be a great deal you can do to offset, but you can pay close attention to what and how much you are eating and attempt to eat a balanced diet as much as possible.

Losing Focus for Near Vision

Most individuals begin to notice a change in their vision in their early to mid-40s with the most common issue being a loss of vision up close. The onset of this losing focus for near vision generally begins between 41 and 60. Known as presbyopia, this change in focus is normal and tends to get worse with time.

You may find yourself trying to self-correct the issue before you even realize it’s a permanent sight change. Many individuals adjust by holding reading materials further away or removing their glasses to see better. You may also notice print materials, like restaurant menus, are blurry.

If you currently wear prescription glasses or lenses to correct a distance vision issue, you may be able to improve your aging eyesight by switching to bifocal lenses. Whether you’ve noticed a change in your vision or not, it’s important to see your optometrist at least once a year to reduce your risk of more serious vision problems.

Becoming Hearing Impaired

Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common challenges aging adults face. In fact, nearly one in three individuals in the United States alone will experience some level of hearing loss between 65 and 74. That ratio raises to almost half of individuals becoming hearing impaired by the age of 75.

Hearing loss related to age typically occurs in both ears equally and tends to happen gradually. The loss may make it difficult to participate in family functions effectively, understand doctor’s advice fully, and even hear warnings or alarms clearly in your home or other environments.

These changes in hearing are typically a result of changes in the inner ear that come with age, but it can also be a result of changes in the middle ear or more complex issues with the nerve pathways between the ears and brain. Regardless, working with a hearing specialist can help you better understand the loss and learn ways to prevent further damage and better manage what loss you’ve already sustained.

Sense Of Smell Diminishes

You may also lose a little bit of your sense of smell with age. This change typically occurs after the age of 70. However, some individuals do experience a change in their sense of smell earlier. Typically, the sense of smell diminishes as a result of changes in the mucus production and a loss of nerve endings in the nose.

While losing some of your sense of smell is a normal age-related change, certain factors can exacerbate the loss. Smoking, frequent exposure to harmful chemicals and certain diseases may impact your sense of smell. Likewise, certain medications can affect your sense of smell and taste.

You may be unable to actively regain your lost sense of smell. However, there are things you can do to reduce the effect this change has on your quality of life. Talk to your physician or other care providers about changing medications, using different spices in food prep, and buying safety products that will help you better cope with any losses you have experienced.

Memory Loss

Memory loss is one of the most worrisome issues aging individuals face. Fortunately, though, forgetfulness is not an automatic indicator of Alzheimer’s disease, which is one of the most aggressive age-related diseases. In fact, forgetfulness is a relatively common part of aging.

Most individuals experience this loss as needing more time to learn new things, not recalling information as well as well as they once did, or misplacing everyday items like glasses. These experiences are typically indicators of mild forgetfulness and not a serious need for concern.

It is important, however, to discuss any memory-related issues with your doctor as they can be signs of more complicated medical conditions. Issues that can cause memory problems include tumors, blood clots, infections, endocrine disorders, alcohol abuse, head injury, and medication side effects.

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