Just as our senses of sight and hearing change and diminish as we age, we may also experience a change in our sense of taste. We have all heard that temporarily losing the senses of taste and smell is a symptom of coronavirus, but diminishing taste buds has always been common among seniors. We are born with 10,000 taste buds covering our tongues, throats and the roofs of our mouths. Flavors are separated into five categories: sweet, salt, sour, bitter and savory. Around the age of 50, our taste buds gradually begin to decrease, making it difficult to distinguish between different flavors.
Other factors may also lead to a diminished sense of tase. As we age, it also takes longer for taste buds to heal after a burn from hot food or drinks. Lack of saliva production, allergies and illnesses, medical conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and nerve damage pose a problem for taste. Another cause may be poor dental care. Some seniors may not brush properly or frequently enough. Certain medications or cancer treatments may also contribute to loss of taste, creating metallic flavors or causing dry mouth as a side effect. Excessive use of alcohol and smoking can hinder taste, damaging the tongue. Because the sense of smell is connected so closely to taste, diminished smell will also affect taste. Losing the sense of taste can lead to weight loss and nutritional deficiencies due to lack of appetite, higher blood pressure due to over-salting, and an increased risk of eating food that has gone bad.
So, what are some ways to prevent or lessen the loss of taste? While it is inevitable you will lose some taste buds, there are a few strategies that help. Make sure you brush, use mouthwash and floss well. These habits get rid of gum disease, which decreases the risk of taste bud loss. Also, use herbs and spices to bring out the flavor of your foods and make sure they are consumed at the proper temperature corresponding to the type of food. Cold potatoes and warm yogurt do not sound very appetizing. Trying new recipes or savoring your favorite recipe when you are most hungry can also help. Make meals a social time so the focus is on your company rather than the flavor of your food.
If you have a sudden loss of taste connected to a head or mouth injury, see your doctor immediately. If meal preparation or mouth care is difficult, a home care service can help seniors with these types of needs. A professional company with a trusted reputation, Griswold Home Care of Greater Orlando assists seniors with daily care needs such as personal hygiene, light housekeeping, and meal preparation. Griswold refers specially trained and experienced caregivers who will treat your loved one with dignity and respect. Contact them to learn more today.