What is the normal range of human hearing, and how does this range change with age? Why is it that younger people can hear high-pitched ringtones but older people cannot?

As we age, our sensory abilities change in predictable ways. Unfortunately, during our geriatric years, much of the change in sensation is associated with a decrement or loss in ability. With old age, our senses become less acute, and we have trouble discriminating between subtle differences and sensing details. For example, our sense of smell decreases, and this partially contributes to the loss of taste.

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  • What is the normal range of human hearing, and how does this range change with age? Why is it that younger people can hear high-pitched ringtones but older people cannot? How is this used to the advantage of younger people (e.g., when choosing cell phone ringtones)?
  • What happens to the human eye as a person gets older? Consider what happens to the ability to perceive images at different distances when the lens becomes more rigid. How might a person with myopia benefit from changes with time?
  • How do the changes in smell and taste interact? Discuss the different types of taste. Are there any specific tastes that are relatively preserved with age? Do food preferences change with one’s ability to taste different things? How does this impact food choice?

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