Changes in Aging

Topics: Old age, Middle age, Vitamin Pages: 53 (15283 words) Published: October 12, 2013
Biologic changes: "Health in the later years is an accumulated product of your life before," says geriatrician Dr Denise Eldemire Shearer. "Most of the illnesses in the later years are lifestyle-related and prevention is very important." Concurrent with physical ageing - which all woman looked at last week - is biological ageing which, combined with the physical, our heredity and lifestyle habits, governs the functions of the body's organs and systems as we grow older. The biological changes of ageing, Dr Eldemire Shearer continues, include: . Decrease in total body water: which combined with shrinking of the sweat glands, causes an increase in the dryness and wrinkling of the skin and makes it more susceptible to disease and injury. Drinking several glasses of water daily and caring for the skin with oils and lotions (whole body, not just arms and legs, men as well as women) are good habits to cultivate. Coconut oil works just as well as the expensive ones. . Thickening and hardening of heart valves and arteries: which means that the heart rate is decreased and the heart pumps less blood with each beat. There is also decreased blood flow to the organs such as the kidneys, so the toxins which they filter stay in the body longer. Good nutrition, regular moderate exercise and a reduction or elimination of the toxins we take in such as cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs, should ensure good organ health. . Decreased brain weight and reduction in the number of brain cells: resulting in a slower response time for some nervous system functions. A slight lessening of mental sharpness and quickness and short term memory are normal ageing-related changes and do not interfere with normal brain function. Using a diary, writing things down and allowing yourself or the older person time to process information helps in this area. Any noticeable reduction in mental functioning, however, must be checked with your doctor as it is not a normal feature of ageing. . Reduction in the response of the immune system: which, combined with the reduction in efficiency of the respiratory and urinary systems and a reduced cough reflex, makes one more prone to infections in these areas. This is where good nutrition combined with prescribed appropriate nutritional supplements gives you the edge. . Loss of bone substance and a tendency to osteoarthritis: which can decrease mobility and increase one's susceptibility to bone injuries. These changes are primarily due to hormonal changes at midlife (female menopause/male andropause) combined with a tendency to reduce the level and/or frequency of exercise as we age. An increase in foods (and, if necessary, supplements rich in calcium and vitamin D & B12, prescribed and properly monitored hormone replacement therapy if needed, and a suitable exercise routine should take care of these. It is of paramount importance that younger women build and maintain strong bones in order to maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis in later life. Worthy of note is the fact that poverty is linked to inadequate access to food and nutrition and the health of older women often reflects the cumulative impact of poor diet, eg years of childbearing and sacrificing her own nutrition to that of the family can leave the older woman with chronic anaemia. This problem can be helped by improved nutrition and relatively inexpensive iron supplements. Ageing individuals and their family members/caregivers must understand therefore, Dr Shearer emphasises, that regular medical check-ups are extremely important in preventing or reducing the incidence of the natural physical and biological ageing changes becoming medical problems. In addition, many cancers are more prevalent in the older years so it is essential that individuals be tested on a regular basis for these conditions. Cancer of the breast, ovaries and cervix in women, prostate cancer in men and cancer of the colon in both genders, have specific tests which should be performed in...
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