How the 5 Senses Change with Age

How the 5 Senses Change with Age

Taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell. Those are the five primary senses most people are born with. But, as we age, these five senses undergo changes that can cause their effectiveness to depreciate.

At Davis Community’s Wilmington NC nursing homes, we provide our residents with the proper nutrition, stimulating activities, and daily exercise needed to keep their five senses at the peak of their capabilities for as long as possible, but aging will still cause them to change to some degree. Here, we take a look at how the five senses changes with age.


Most older adults tend to suffer from vision depreciation as a result of one of three main causes:

  • Reduced ocular muscle tone
  • Reduced eye lubrication
  • An eye disorder, injury, or disease

As we age, we naturally suffer a loss of muscle tone in and around the eye. It’s what causes the eyelids and the skin surrounding the eyes to sag. Unfortunately, this muscle loss also affects the eye’s ability to see clearly and in severe cases, it can cause conditions like blepharoptosis which can result in more frequent headaches and increased fatigue.

Loss of eye lubrication results when the lacrimal gland starts to malfunction. This gland is responsible for lubricating the eye with tears every time we blink and when it doesn’t work as well as it should, the sufferer will experience dry, itchy eyes and other types of ocular irritation.

The most common eye disorders to affect older adults are glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, night blindness, and presbyopia, all of which can cause significant reduction in one’s ability to see clearly.


The ability to hear naturally diminishes over time as the intricate structures and network of nerves found in the middle and inner ear gradually break down. The auditory nerve undergoes changes that are brought on by aging; leading to changes in how older adults interpret the sounds they are hearing.

The most common types of hearing problems found in older adults include presbycusis (the inability to hear high frequency sounds) and tinnitus, which is also known as “ringing in the ears.”


When we touch something, be it hot or cold, soft or hard, the nerves in the fingers send impulses to the brain that instantly identifies the sensation. As we age, however, our sense of touch becomes less sensitive for a number of reasons. Not only has the skin developed a tougher exterior after a lifetime of working and battling the elements, but it has also suffered a loss of elastin and collagen, both of which are responsible for maintaining the skin’s elasticity.

Certain health conditions can also affect one’s ability to sense touch, such as poor blood circulation, skin or nerve damage caused by diabetes, neurological disorders, mental illnesses, and brain disorders. Certain medications and treatments can also affect touch sensation.

Taste and Smell

Taste and smell are two independent senses but they do work closely together. For instance, the sense of smell plays a large role in how we taste and enjoy our food. As for the reduction in one’s ability to taste, this is usually attributed to the fact that older adults produce less saliva and a dry mouth reduces one’s taste perception. Other factors that can affect one’s sense of taste include poor oral hygiene, poor nutrition, tooth decay, and certain medications and treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The sense of smell can depreciate rather quickly. In fact, by the time a person reaches 50 years of age, their sense of smell can sometimes be only half as sharp as it was in their youth. The reason for this decline is usually attributed to poor nasal hygiene, nasal congestion, diseases affecting the nose or sinuses, certain neurological conditions, and/or certain medications and treatments.

Visit Wilmington NC Nursing Homes at Davis Community Today

As we age, the gradual loss of our five senses can have an impact on our health and mental mindset. Therefore, it is important to live a lifestyle that promotes healthy living so yours or your loved one’s senses can remain as sharp as possible for as long as possible. At Davis Community’s Wilmington NC nursing homes, we encourage and support our residents with a full, active, and engaging lifestyle that promotes healthy living.

If you are considering nursing homes for your loved one, then contact Davis Community today at 910-686-7195 to schedule a visit. Or, simply complete and submit our online request form to learn more.