Aging is the impact of accumulating cellular and molecular damage during a lifetime. This gradual weakness in physical and mental capacity leads to the risk of disease and death. Aging changes our physiological, environmental, dynamic, biological, social, and behavioral processes.
Healthy aging leads to the reduction or delay of undesired aging effects. When we enter old age, our goals should be avoiding disease, maintaining physical and mental health, and maintaining independence. Continuing good health requires more effort as we age. Certain healthy habits, such as regular exercise, eating healthy food, and staying mentally fit, contribute to a better life. These healthy habits must be adopted as early as possible.
Common health conditions caused by aging
from person to person. Some people age comfortably and remain active, alert, and vibrant, while others feel uncomfortable when they grow old and weak and lose their ability to fully take part in social activities.
Older age leads to:
- Reactive errors
- Hearing loss
- Neck and back pain
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Several common, complex health states emerge with aging, known as geriatric syndromes. Often they result from multiple underlying factors, including urinary incontinence, falls, frailty, pressure wounds, and delirium.
Physiological effects of aging
Physiological changes occur in all organ systems as a person ages. These may include an increase in blood pressure, a decrease in cardiac output, and the development of arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis increases the workload on the heart, which multiplies the risk of hypertension and other disorders in the cardiac system.
Due to aging, the lungs show incomplete gas exchange, slower expiratory flow rates, and decreased vital capacity.
As we age, our gums might pull back from our teeth. Certain medicines that treat asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and allergies can cause dry mouth. This combination of dental concerns increases their sensitivity to decay and infection.
Due to changes in collagen and elastin, the epidermis of the skin atrophies. The skin thins and becomes less elastic and more fragile. Fatty tissues below the skin decrease, and skin bruises more easily. A decrease in the production of natural oil might make the skin drier. Wrinkles, age spots, and skin tags are more noticeable.
The loss and atrophy of muscle cells cause a decrease in body mass. Muscles generally lose strength, endurance, and flexibility, eventually leading to a lack of coordination, stability, and balance.
Degenerative changes occur in many joints, which reduces mobility. As we age, our bones shrink in size and density, weakening and making them more vulnerable to fracture.
Older adults experience changes in their eyes and may find it difficult to focus on nearby objects. They can become more sensitive to glare and experience trouble adapting to high light levels. Aging also affects the eye’s lens and causes cataracts (clouded vision).
Psychological effects of aging
Many older adults enjoy good mental health however nearly 25% of adults experience mental health problems such as anxiety, dementia, depression, or schizophrenia. The suicide ratio for adults over 85 is higher than in any other age group.
Slower response time is one of the most common psychological changes associated with aging. Reflexive abilities decrease during the 30s, and by the time someone reaches age of 50, there is a significant decrease in their response time. The ability to concentrate on a particular task starts to decline in the 50s. After this, people are more likely to lose focus and experience a gradual decrease in their attention span.
Psychological changes have an impact on mental health. As such, it is very important to take great care of mental health, especially during tough times. Crossing the age of fifty is a great success and also a big milestone in our life. However, we need to understand the psychological impacts of aging so that we can enjoy a satisfying and happy life.
Lifestyle changes for seniors
Having a balanced diet and regular exercise is paramount in maintaining a healthier, happier life for people of all age groups. A healthy diet and routine exercise significantly impacts lives.
A healthy lifestyle may prevent or at least slow many diseases in older adults. Exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes can positively impact the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, and certain cancers.
In addition to diet and exercise, other important lifestyle modifications to lead a healthier life in seniors include:
- Limiting alcohol intake to one drink daily
- Quit smoking
- Participating in decision-making
- Visiting primary care doctors routinely
- Reviewing the list of medications with their doctors
- Following recommended instructions for preventive tests, health screening, and vaccinations
- Visiting a dentist annually or biannually
- People with diabetes must follow up with an eye doctor and foot doctor
- Maintaining a good sleep schedule
- Using skin moisturizers and sun protection
- Brushing and flossing teeth daily
- Traveling or participating in favored activities when able
- Mayo Clinic. Aging: What to Expect. Updated November 3, 2022. Accessed December 3, 2022.
- National Institute of Aging. Understanding the Dynamics of the Aging Process. Accessed December 3, 2022.
- Stefanacci, RG. Disorders in Older People. Merck & Co. Manual. Updated May 2022. Accessed December 3, 2022.
- Word Health Organization. Ageing and Health. Updated October 1, 2022. Accessed December 3, 2022.
- MedicineNet. Senior Health: Successful Aging. Updated June 2022. Accessed December 4, 2022.