By Kimberly Adler-Morelli
Always reaching for your reading glasses? Cranking up the volume on the TV? Changes in sight and hearing are a natural part of aging. So be prepared for what will happen (or maybe already is) and what can help.
See what you’re missing
As we get older, our pupils shrink so they don’t let in as much light and our lenses stiffen. This makes it harder to see in dim light and focus close up. Adding lamps to your house and using reading glasses can help. Consider these options, too:
- Monovision and multifocal contacts. Monovision corrects one eye for distance and the other for close-up vision. Multifocal have several zones, using both near and far vision at the same time. The only brief downside? It takes a little time for your brain to adapt to a new way of seeing.
- Refractive surgery. A doctor reshapes the cornea for clear far vision in one eye and close-up vision in the other, like monovision contacts.
- Corneal inlays. Tiny devices are inserted under the cornea to restore close-up vision.
Want to ditch the readers? Talk to your eye doctor about which option is right for you.
Hear the latest
Remember those rock concerts you went to in your teens and 20s? Your ears remember them, too. Hearing loss is common in people around repeated loud noises — like hunters, flight crew members and construction workers. But it can also be due to frequent ear infections (or just a lot of birthdays!). Sure, you can decrease background noise and ask people to talk louder, but what else can raise the volume?
Hearing aids can help, and they’ve come a long way! These aren’t your grandpa’s hearing aids. For one thing, they come in different styles and sizes, many quite small. They’re also customized to the listener, can connect to your smart devices and may be rechargeable. An audiologist will help you find the type that’s perfect for you. Just remember to wear ear plugs if you plan on reliving your youth at a local rock concert!
Savor the flavors (and smells) of your food
The sense of smell fades with age — and the number of tastebuds declines, too — so food you used to find yummy may become bland. Find yourself over-salting or using too much sugar? Sweet and salty flavors are the first to go. This can spell trouble if you have high blood pressure or diabetes.
So how do you make food more appetizing but still healthy? Try some of these tips:
- Kick up the flavor: Put the salt down and try low-sodium sauces, different herbs and spices, or lemon juice to add flavor.
- Boost the aroma: Use marinades for meats (this also helps with dry mouth) and add onions and garlic to dishes.
- Switch things up: Try out some new recipes or have foods with different textures on your plate. Maybe give “breakfast for dinner” a chance?
- Play with temperature: Try heating foods more or less to maximize the flavors.
Don’t be afraid to play with your food. You might just find new ways to tempt those tastebuds.
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If you're having trouble seeing — and for that matter, hearing — you're not alone. The aging process can affect our senses. Vision and hearing loss get the most attention, but our sense of smell and taste also diminish.