Aging and Developmental Disabilities

Effects on the Senses
As you grow older, you may notice that some things become more difficult for you to do.
  • You may have trouble: eye glasses
    • Reading small print in your newspaper
    • Hearing music on your radio
    • Tasting your favorite foods
    • Telling when it is hot or cold
    • Moving around quickly and easily
These things happen because as you get older, your body is changing.
  • Your body changes in ways that cause a decline in your senses.
  • As your senses decline, it can become harder for you to:
    • See
    • Smell
    • Hear 
    • Feel
    • Taste
    • Balance
As your senses decline, you may be at greater risk of harm.
  • When you can not see or hear as well, you may not know you are in harm’s way.
  • When you can not taste or smell as well, you may eat spoiled food or foods that are not healthy.
  • When you can not feel you may get cut or burned more easily.
  • When you can not balance as well, you may fall more easily.
Everyone experiences age-related declines in their senses.
  • However, people with developmental disabilities may experience these signs of growing older at an earlier age than other people. 
  • If you know what to expect, you can take steps to keep safe!
As you age, your eyes and vision will change.
  • You may find that:
    • You have dry, scratchy eyes
    • You cannot see things clearly
    • You cannot see things that are very close to your face or far away
    • You cannot see as well in the dark
There are things you can do!
  • Visit your eye doctor and ask if glasses will help you see better.
  • Buy books and magazines with large print.
  • Get a night light for your bedroom and bathroom to help you see at night.
As you grGlassesow older, changes in your body can also make it harder for you to hear.
  • You may find that:
    • You have a harder time hearing when there is noise in the background
    • You hear noises such as ringing or buzzing that are not really there
    • You cannot hear sounds that are quiet 
There are things you can do!
  • See your doctor and ask if you need:
    • a hearing test
    • a hearing aid
    • extra wax cleaned from your ears
    • Ask people to speak clearly and slowly when they are talking to you.
    • Try to talk with people in quiet places.
You may also have a harder time tasting and smelling than you did before.  
  • You may find that:
    • You are not able to taste food, like sweet and sour items, as well as you once did 
    • You may not feel thirsty, even when you need to drink
    • You cannot smell certain odors, such as smoke, as well as you could before
There are things you can do!
  • Use more spices on your food; But, avoid using more salt!
  • Make sure to drink a lot of water.
  • Check to see that smoke detectors in your house are working properly.
As you grow older, your skin’s sensitivity to conditions outside your body changes.
  • You may find that
    • Your skin becomes dryer and thinner
    • You cannot feel pain on your skin as well as you could in the past
    • You have trouble staying warm in cool temperatures
    • You have trouble staying cool in hot temperatures
There are things you can do!
  • Use moisturizing lotion to prevent dry skin.
  • Ask someone to check your bath or shower water to make sure it is not too hot or too cold.
  • Check the thermostat or weather report when you are deciding what to wear.
As you age, it can also become harder for you to move and keep your balance.
  • You may find that:
    • Your arms and legs feel stiff or sore
    • You have a hard time getting up when you have been sitting down 
    • You are not as strong as you were
    • You stumble or fall more often
There are things you can do!
  • Ask your doctor what exercises can help keep you strong.
  • Hold onto the railings when you are on the stairs.
  • If you use a cane or walker, make sure you use it correctly  
If you think your senses are changing, talk to your doctor.
  • Your doctor can tell you if the changes you are experiencing are normal, or signs of illness.
  • Your doctor can give you advice that can help you adjust to these changes
You do not have to stop doing the things that you enjoy!
  • By talking with your doctor and making some small changes in your life, you can stay safe and healthy while you age.