In the land of Botox where youth is synonymous with beauty, vigor and health, the idea that old age can be rewarding is almost indigestible.
In fact, Americans seem to have given in to the notion that aging is something to be feared and is akin to isolation, loneliness and a lack of autonomy.
Although admittedly the word “aging” brings with it a dread – a dread that the end of your life is near and you, like others before you, are going to fade away, aging is what we should accept gracefully.
What Is Aging?
Aging, defined as “the time-related deterioration of the physiological functions necessary for survival and fertility”, is a natural phenomenon; one that in unavoidable.
If you understand and accept yourself in this age, you will realize that it is not the time to worry; it is actually the time to reminisce memories and smile – smile at how you transformed from an innocent baby into an impressionable and careless but ambitious youth and finally matured into a responsible and sensible being who successfully made it through life.
You are old, yes, but what you have is what others around you lack. You have experience, wisdom, freedom, and, err, gray hair and wrinkles!
Scientific Explanation Of Healthy Aging
As you age, you begin to notice visible changes in your body. Those gray strands of hair may be the first sign of aging. You may notice yourself getting a bit round, with a bulge forming around your waistline. You may also wake up several times at night or find yourself stiff in the mornings. This is all normal; and a part of healthy aging.
As for the scientific explanation of aging, there has been a lack of consensus among researchers. Over centuries, theories regarding aging have surfaced and faded. Some researchers believe that aging originates in one tissue in the brain, while others believe that aging occurs in all tissues. As a result of this conflict, the aging phenomenon remains largely mysterious. We have not had a coherent aging theory outlining and simplifying the whole process for us.
However, the majority of the scientists agree that aging is a result of a combined damage to the molecules present in the cell. These molecules are what you call proteins, lipids and DNA and RNA. When enough molecules within the cell are damaged, the cell fails to function properly. When cells deteriorate, our health eventually deteriorates and we appear to age. A damage to cells makes us lose vitality and our body parts begin to wear out, just as those of a car, or any machine for that matter, do. This process is called senescence.
According to uptodate.com, aging causes desynchronization that affects the rhythmic physiologic processes in the body.
Scientists, therefore, consider aging a default state that occurs after we have lived a fulfilled life. It is the complexity of the procedure that precludes a simple, straight-forward explanation.
Nonetheless, let us look at the consensual scientific explanation of aging in detail.
- Oxidative Damage – occurs when oxygen atoms present in the mitochondria – the powerhouse of cell – react with reactive oxygen species (ROS). The ROS include free radicals, oxides and superoxides that have a potential to damage cell membranes, proteins and nucleic acid.
- General Wear-and-Tear – As you age, there occurs genetic instability in you. Small traumas begin to build up in your body, mutations in genes occur, the efficiencies of enzymes decrease and the cells begin to make faulty proteins.
- Mitochondrial Genome Damage – Mutation rates in mitochondria, being 10–20 times faster than the nuclear DNA mutation rate – lead to a decreased energy production, increased free radical formation and apoptosis (programmed cell death).
Apoptosis is the exact opposite of mitosis – mitosis creates cells whereas apoptosis kills them. Together, these two are nature’s sculpturing processes that put life in balance.
- Telomere Shortening – Telomeres, repeated DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes, shorten with each cell division. Telomerase is the enzyme that prevents shortening of telomeres and ensures that cells keep dividing normally. Mammalian tissues lack telomerase, so the shortening of telomeres is inevitable. However, the majority of the scientific studies rebuff this theory saying there is no correlation between telomere-dependent inhibition of cell division and the rate of aging.
WHO – Facts On Aging And Health
Life expectancy in almost every country of the world is increasing. Consequently, the proportion of people aging more than 60 is not only growing but is expected to nearly double from 12% to 22% till 2050. By 2020, the geriatric population will have outnumbered children aged five or less.
With around 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 in the U.S. every day, it won’t be wrong to call it the “silver tsunami”.
Globally, there are currently more than 900 million adults aged 60 and older.
Aging Is Inevitable But Healthy Aging Is A Choice
While aging is an unstoppable universal phenomenon, how people cope up with it is purely their choice. Some give in to the inevitability of the life and embrace aging gracefully while others leave no stone unturned to reverse it. Whatever the choice, the important thing is that you should opt for healthy aging.
Healthy aging comes from healthy choices – whether it is related to food, lifestyle and habits.
Your choices at this age, where you are not in your prime, will have real consequences on your health. You should:
- Eat a variety of healthy foods, including nuts, milk, fruits, vegetables, fish and poultry
- Practice portion control
- Include physical activity in your daily routine
While making efforts to stay active and healthy are laudable, there is something you need to watch out for. Let your interest in healthy aging not take your far where you would resort to using various anti-aging therapies, including restrictive diets, supplements or phony anti-aging serums claiming to delay or reverse aging.
Do not fall for fancy promises and suspicious schemes. Let nature play its role. Going with what nature has bestowed upon you should be your priority.
Age-Related Health Problems And Their Management
Now comes the tricky part that most people dread – age-related health problems. The elderly make up the highest risk group for diseases, infections and other health threats. This is because several changes occur in their body with time; weakening their immune system, depressing their hormonal functions and waning the organ functions – all a part of normal aging. However, what is considered normal tremendously increases your chances of various diseases. You must brace yourself to face it all – from mild pains to the most debilitating illnesses. However, being at an increased risk does not mean you will get them all, with healthy choices and lifestyle, you should be able to prevent their occurrence.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined the list of diseases and conditions most prevalent in older adults.
- Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) – The Number#1 Killer – Claiming more than 610,000 lives in the United States each year, CVDs are the leading cause of death in both men and women. The risk is highest in population aged 45-54 years.
CVDs refer to a group of disorders affecting the heart or the blood vessels and include
- Arteriosclerosis – Thickening of the walls of the arteries
- Coronary heart disease – Narrowing of the blood vessels supplying to the heart due to plaque formation called atherosclerosis
- Arrhythmia – abnormal heart beating
- Heart failure
- Orthostatic hypotension – marked lowering of BP upon standing up
- Stroke – poor blood flow to the brain
- Congenital heart disease
According to the findings of the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), a healthy lifestyle is the mainstay of preventing the risk, i.e., lowering the risk of heart disease by as much as 80%. With data over 14 years, the NHS study constituted one of the largest in the country. It followed more than 120,000 women aged 30-55. The study showed that risk of heart disease was much lower in women who were not overweight or obese, did not smoke, consumed less alcohol, exercised regularly, and ate a low-fat, high-fiber diet.
- Arthritis – Affecting nearly half the population, arthritis is the leading cause of disability among the elderly. According to the epidemiological data from Rochester Minnesota Epidemiology, the lifetime risk of arthritis is 4% among women and 3% among men. Risk factors for arthritis include:
- Gender – women are two to three times more likely to develop arthritis
- Drugs and therapies such as hormonal replacement therapy and oral contraceptives
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Cancer – The risk of developing many types of cancers parallels your age, i.e., the more you age, the higher the risk. Older women are at a heightened risk of breast and endometrial cancer; men with prostate cancer. Every two of three invasive breast cancers are found in women aged 55 and older. Lung and colon cancers affect both genders.
The risk can be decreased with regular gynecological, breast and colon exams.
- The USPSTF recommends that women aged 50-74 who are at average risk for breast cancer get a mammogram every two years.
- There is no standard recommendation for uterine cancer screening. Consult your doctor if you have an infection or are concerned.
- Risk of cervical cancer decreases with age. Women aged 65 and older who have had regular pap exams and normal results in the past do not need to undergo screening for cervical cancer.
- The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that all adults aged 55-74 years who either are current smoker or have a history of smoking ≥ 30 pack per year smoking (while having quit in last 15 years), and are in a good healthy should undergo screening for lung cancer.
- ACS recommends routine colorectal exam for all adults aged 50 and older with:
- Annual fecal blood test, and
- Sigmoidoscopy or double-contrast barium enema: every 5 years OR colonoscopy: every 10 years
- Osteoporosis And Falls – osteoporosis, or weakening of bones due to low bone mass, is not a part of normal aging. It affects around 44 million adults aged 50 and older, most of whom are women.
Getting plenty of calcium and adequate vitamin D remain the chief preventive strategy for osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises also help.
Every year, more than one third of the elderly population experiences a fall that is closely related to a combination of a disability in motor function and poor eyesight.
- Vision And Hearing Loss – According to latest statistics from National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), more than one third of Americans aged 65-74 and around half of those over age 75 have hearing loss. While the statistics are alarming, what’s really disconcerting is the fact that only about 20% of affected individuals actually seek help.
According to CDC, approximately 1,600,000 Americans aged 50 years and older have age-related macular degeneration.
Routine eye exams, i.e., once every 1-2 years, and hearing tests, as and when required, are recommended for all adults aged 65 and older.
- Mental Health Problems – Old age, it seems, is an open invitation to a myriad of mental health challenges. While some of the changes in the mental function, such as forgetfulness, slow thinking, and clouded judgement, are a part of the normal aging, what should set alarm for you include:
- Memory loss related to Alzheimer and dementia. Alzheimer’s affects about 3% of people aged 65-74 and nearly half of those aged 85 and older.
- Stress, anxiety and depression. Of 35 million Americans aged 65 and above, around 2 million have a depressive illness.
Reasons For Aging Rapidly
- Environmental Factors And Lifestyle Choices – In a study led by Daniel Belsky, the researchers delved into what is called “accelerated or rapid aging” and the markers triggering its cause. The study comprised of 954 individuals born in 1972-1973 in New Zealand. All people were followed from the time when they were 26 till they were 38. Each participant was tested with the 18 standard factors that contribute to aging; including blood pressure, cholesterol, lung function, inflammation, body mass index and DNA integrity. The tests were done at the beginning of the study, once when each individual was 32; then at 38. The results were combined to assess the pace at which each participant was aging.
The results were baffling. Belsky and his team found that the as much 80% of the factors triggering aging were not genetic but are related to environment and lifestyle choices.
The participants of the study, despite being the same age, showed varied “biological aging”. Those who were aging rapidly showed the signs and medical conditions reflecting those of middle-age. Such individuals looked older, were less physically able, showed a decline in cognitive functions and self-reported poor health.
- Chronic Stress – In addition, several factors can hasten aging among older adults; one of which is phobic anxiety and chronic stress. In one study, Olivia Okereke, psychiatrist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and her team examined blood samples and results of 5,243 women aged 42-69 and found that women with highest levels of phobic anxiety were at least six years older than their biological age.
Chronic stress and depression are also related to rapid aging. These shorten telomeres – the protective ending of the chromosomes that preserve genetic information at the time of cell division. Telomere shortening is the part of normal aging. Stress and depression can shorten telomeres way before you age.
Too Much Sun Exposure
– most of the premature aging can be related to sun exposure. This is called photoaging. Excessive and repeated exposure to sun increase absorption of ultraviolet (UV) radiations from sun which in turn alter skin structure and texture leading to premature aging of skin.
Photoaging is characterized by the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and spider veins. The skin gets pigmented leading to uneven skin tone. UV-A radiations penetrate deeper into the skin and are more harmful than UVB which penetrate the outer skin layer (epidermis) only. If you compare the area regularly exposed to sun, such as face, neck and arms to the parts of body rarely exposed, such as thighs, legs and abdomen, you will see a clear difference between skin tone, smoothness and texture. Experts believe that approximately 90% of skin aging occurs as a result of excessive sun exposure.
The skin normally recovers the photo-damaging of UV rays but if the damage is great and for a prolonged period of time, the affected cells die.
Photoaging is directly related to the amount and extent of direct sun exposure without any protection and can start as soon as in teens. The best way to prevent photoaging is to have sun-protection. You can do this by:
- Limiting your time outdoors particularly during when UV radiations are at peak, i.e., between 11 am to 3 pm.
- Seeking shade when outdoor by wearing sunglasses and broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30.
- Avoiding indoor tanning.
- Smoking – Do you know that smokers appear older than their age? This is the standard side effect of smoking nicotine. Cigarette smoking affects not just one but a number of organs in your body including skin, teeth, hair, bones, lungs and heart.
But how does cigarette smoking leads to rapid aging?
- Skin – Let’s first see the effects of cigarette smoking on skin. Smoke contains acetaldehyde, a chemical that disrupts the cross-linking bonds of soft tissues, particularly those present in the skin.
Smoking also leads to premature skin sagging and wrinkling by restricting the blood flow to the skin and speeding up enzymatic breakdown of collagen and elastin – fibers that keep skin tight and flexible. Smoking also depletes vitamin C which is involved in collagen synthesis.
If you are a chronic smoker, you will have a dull, dry, aged and unhealthy skin.
A twin study at Department of Plastic Surgery at Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, recruited 79 twins between 18-78 who were photographed at the beginning of the study. The researchers wanted to see the facial difference between smokers and their non-smoking twin over time. The photos were divided into two categories; the first category had 45 sets of twin in which one smoked but the other did not; the second category had both smokers but one twin smoked for longer than five years than the other.
When the photographs were compared, the smoking twin in the first category looked 57% older than the other. In the second category, the twin smoking for longer looked 63% older.
- Hair – Smoking also speeds up graying of hair.
- Teeth – Smoking yellows the teeth over time and can also give you gum disease.
- Voice – Chronic exposure to carbon monoxide present in the smoke damage your vocal cords and reduce blood flow to the throat leading to smoker’s cough.
- Eyes – Smokers get bags under their eyes giving them an overall old look.
- Poor Diet Or Crash Dieting Never ever think of going on a crash diet if you are planning to lose weight. It’s true that crash diets cut calories drastically and lead to a quick weight loss but their long term repercussions are scary, one of which is aging.
The first sign of aging due to crash diet appears on skin. Your skin sags and fine lines and wrinkles appear.
As you continue cutting calories to dangerously low levels, you will begin to lose muscle mass. Your body is not getting energy in terms of carbs and is quickly utilizing fat as fuel. Once the fat is used up, it begins burning muscle mass for fuel. This is a crisis situation for your body. When you start losing muscle mass, red flags are raised. Your heart and metabolism begin to slow down in an attempt to conserve energy. You start to look frail and old.
Unhealthy diet also speeds up cellular aging process resulting in premature diseases that are typically seen in older age, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Gradual weight loss is always better than crash diets.
- Obesity – accelerates premature aging. Research has shown that obesity speeds up loosening of genetic structures in cells that usually detangle with actual age only. If you are middle aged, say 40 and above, and are obese, your brain is totally different from non-obese people your age.
A Cambridge University study found that obesity results in shrinking of the brain. The researchers studied white matter in 473 individuals. The volume of white matter was different in obese and lean people. They noticed that obesity ages brain by at least 10 years.
- Severe Insomnia – If you see fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes, you may have to check your sleeping habits. Chronic sleep deprivation, or insomnia, is linked to rapid aging.
Beauty sleep is no myth. If you are constantly ignoring sleep, you are likely to develop premature wrinkles and fine lines on your face and bags under your eyes. The effect is worse in women.
Signs Of Aging – How To Tell If You Are Aging Normally
So soon as you cross 50, you will start noticing changes in your body; all of which are natural and a part of normal aging. According to an update, these changes affect all the organs of your body such as:
- Skin – Your skin will become stiff, wrinkled, lined and dry. Your fingernail growth will be retarded.
- Hair – Your hair will turn gray and thin. Normal aging manifests with strands of gray hair and thinning of hair on head, pubic area and armpits.
- Height – By the age of 80, your body will stoop, reducing your height by about 2’’ inches.
- Hearing – Over time, you will notice that you have trouble hearing properly. This is because of the physiological changes occurring in your ear that make high-frequency sounds harder to hear.
- Vision – It is normal for vision to decline with age. Most of the old individuals require visual aids to read newspapers and watch TV. In the later years, glare increases that interferes with clear vision.
- Sleep – You may have trouble falling asleep as deeply as you did when you were young. You may also notice yourself waking several times at night. Aging affects your circadian rhythm.
- Bones – Throughout your life, you are losing some of the mineral content in your bones; the effects of which are profound and visible in older age. Your bones become weak, brittle and fragile, increasing your risk of fall.
- Metabolism – Over time, your body will tend to slow down and will thus, require less energy. This makes your metabolism slow.
- Brain and Nervous System – Brain and nervous system – the weight of brain, the size of nerves and the blood flow to your brain decrease, which accounts for poor memory and judgement in old age.
- Heart and Blood Circulation – Your heart naturally becomes less efficient with advancing age. At your age, it has to work harder than it did in the past. This overburden enlarges your heart and weakens its muscles.
Any signs other than those mentioned above do not constitute normal aging and should prompt you to visit your GP, particularly if you have a memory loss and trouble breathing after a brief physical activity or at rest.
Is Aging Actually Good For You?
Whether good or bad, aging is inevitable and unavoidable. All of us are headed towards it, if we are lucky to get to live that long. Nonetheless, the “third phase” of life should not dim your happiness, contentment, and most importantly, your will to live longer. It’s true that aging increases your risk of various diseases; some of which are preventable, but with effective management and treatment, you should be able to live well.
True that you do not have much to look forward to, but you have plenty to look back at and relish the memories of your past.
Is There Something Called Anti-Aging Diet?
They say you are what you eat and it’s not wrong. Whatever you eat affects all of your body organs – from your brain to your bones. Better feed yourself well. To answer the question, aging is unstoppable but there are age-defying foods that can; not only make you look far younger than your biological age but would also make you feel physically active and fit. In fact, your dietary choices also determine your chances of getting health problems.
Sort out your heating habits and include a variety of healthy items to rejuvenate your skin and health. Some of the food that you should put on your plate are:
- Fruits and Vegetables – because they are rich in anti-oxidants such as vitamin C, zinc and beta-carotene. Anti-oxidants prevent unstable molecules from damaging your healthy cells. Beta-carotene prevents poor sight and loss of sight – the risk of which is highest in your age. Vitamin C keeps skin fresh and healthy and aids in gum health and wound healing.
- Whole Grains – such as brown rice, wheat, oats and barley keep your blood circulation smooth and your blood vessels healthy. These also reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Fish – Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, fish keeps your heart and bones healthy. It is known to lower the risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s.
- Dairy – such as low-fat milk, yogurt, soy milk and almond milk are rich sources of vitamin D and calcium that prevent you against osteoporosis.
- Nuts – keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check.
- Beans and lentils – give you plenty of fiber and proteins reducing the risk of diabetes and heart diseases.
Ultimate Skin Care For Anti-Aging
Apart from choosing healthy food and lifestyle, dermatologists recommend a variety of steps that can give you a healthy glowing skin to defy aging. These include:
- Daily gentle cleansing of face with dermatologist-approved facial cleaners such as Eucerin
- Drinking green tea, taking vitamin C, E and other polyphenols and applying products (such as lineless seed) that are full of anti-oxidants on your skin, can help prevent breakdown of collagen. Collagen breakdown paves way for wrinkles, fine lines and eye bags that signal aging.
- Applying Broad-Spectrum Sunscreens containing 5% or more zinc oxide to prevent your skin from aging UV rays.
- Frequent Skin Exfoliation with brush, sponges and cosmetics containing glycolic acid brightens your skin.
- Moisturizing your skin internally with a good intake of water and externally with creams containing skin-friendly products such as aloe vera.
- Getting adequate sleep.
Watch Out For Your Vision Loss – The Aging Eye
Coming back to eyes/vision – one of the five sense that we are most afraid of losing – which starts declining rapidly after 40. Speaking of old people, who are not only at risk of aging eyes, but also of various conditions affecting eyes such as:
- Glaucoma – a group of eye diseases characterized by the damaging of the optic nerve. Glaucoma, often painless and free of symptom, is the most common reason behind vision loss. It can take away side (peripheral) vision.
- Cataract – is characterized by the presence of opaque spots in the lens of eye and is synonymous with cloudy vision. Cataracts can cause blurred vision, reduced contrast sensitivity, fading of colors and increased tendency to glare. It usually develops in both eyes, but may affect either more.
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – is an eye disease that affects the macula – the epicenter of the retina located at the back of the eye where it serves to sharpen and pinpoint your vision. It is the macula that allows you to differentiate between fine details and recognize colors. Age-related macular degeneration develops over years but smoking may increase the risk of progression. It affects central vision and leads to the loss of focus while reading, watching TV, driving and recognizing faces. According to one study, anti-oxidants such as vitamin C, E and beta-carotene, have been hypothesized to protect against AMD.
- Diabetic Retinopathy – occurs as a result of a progressive damage to the blood vessels of the eye (retina). As a result, blood leaks from the vessels and together with fluid builds up on the retinal tissue where it leads to swelling and clouding of the vision. Diabetic retinopathy affects people with long-standing diabetes, particularly one that is poorly managed. The condition is chronic and develops over years. It can also cause blindness.
- Dry Eyes – as the name says is a condition where your eyes become excessively dry due to the lack of or poor-quality tears. Tears, maintaining the health of eye front, account for a crisp vision.
- Retinal Detachment – is the spontaneous separation of the retina – light sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye – from the underlying tissue due mainly to changes in gel-like vitreous fluid that fills the back of the eye. It may also occur secondarily to a trauma to the eye or head, advanced diabetes, and inflammatory eye disorders. If not treated promptly, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss.
These changes, though are more likely as you reach your 60s and beyond, do not mean your life will be hampered and dependent on others. You need to be aware of the age-related problems that affect your eyes. With safety measures and prompt professional care, you should be able to safeguard your vision.
According to studies, opting for healthy eating, quitting smoking and being physically active markedly reduces the risks and complications of age-related vision loss, by about threefold.
How Is Your Memory Holding Up?
Are you forgetting things, having difficulty remembering where you put your keys or facing a trouble recognizing names of places and people? This is normal. Nearly all of us experience a frequent lag of memory. However, the frequency and severity of these signs should raise the red flag for you. While some of the memory loss is a normal consequence of advanced aging; it is important to distinguish normal from abnormal.
Alzheimer’s Disease – a type of severe and permanent memory loss – is the most common age-related neurocognitive disorder. It mainly affects adults aged 65 and older. Watch out for its symptoms.
Alzheimer’s Is Not Normal Aging – Consult Your Doctor
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia that accounts for 60-80% of all the cases. Currently, more than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s. The risk of dementia is linked closely with the age. Nearly one in every nine people aged 65; and one in every three people aged 85 or older has Alzheimer’s.
Named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who first studied the disease in 1906, Alzheimer’s is a progressive, degenerative brain disease that gradually destroys a person’s ability to think, reason, and recall memories. Overtime the person loses the ability to communicate and carry out routine work including bathing, eating and dressing up.
Alzheimer’s is not a part of normal aging. Consult your doctor as soon as you notice any symptom. Currently, there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s but early diagnosis may allow doctors to control and delay the symptoms.
Risk Of Falls – Precautions
Risk of falling increases with age – each year, one out of every three adults aged 65 or above falls and about 2 million are admitted to emergency departments on account of fall-related injuries. The long-term consequences of fall injuries include hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Thankfully though, falls do not constitute normal part of healthy aging. They are avoidable. You can lower your risk of falls by following precautionary tips.
- Exercise – strengthens your bones and muscles reducing the risk of falls due to poor balance and gait.
- Care with Medications – Some medicines – such as anti-hypertensives and sedatives – can cause dizziness or drowsiness increasing the likelihood of falls. Be mindful of these side effects, talk to your doctor.
- Eye exams – Get regular eye exams, i.e., annual. If you have a weak eyesight, you should wear glasses or contact lenses to ensure your eyesight is not hampered.
Steps For Home Safety
- Remove things or items you can trip over, i.e., books, shoes and clothes from stairs and floor. Keep items in your cupboard.
- Make sure there is proper lighting in house. Do not walk in dark, and certainly not over a slippery floor.
- Install handrails on stairs.
- Avoid using step stool. Keep items within range.
- Install grab-bars in the bathroom.
- Wear shoes with a good grip.
Tips For Healthy Joints
The risk of arthritis and osteoporosis increases with age, so it is important that you keep your joints healthy and in a good shape. Taking care of your health in youth and adulthood will prove to be beneficial in the old age. Take steps today to bnefit yourself tomorrow.
- Watch Your Weight – The more you weigh, the more you exert pressure on your joints fast-forwarding the otherwise natural wear-and-tear of the bones and joints. Research has shown that with every pound gained, you are putting stress that is four times normal on your joints.
- Exercise – is the best defense against joint damage, swelling and bone growth (bursae). According to one study, aerobic capacity, muscle mass and strength decline by about 1% per year from mid-life onwards.
Exercises such as aerobics, i.e., brisk walking, swimming, jogging, tennis, dancing, water aerobics and muscle strengthening exercises, i.e., weight training, calisthenics, and resistance training, are good for your joints and bones.
According to the guidelines from American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), you should carry out a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days a week OR 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity three days a week.
Aerobic activities do not have to be done at one time; these can be spread throughout the day, i.e., you can take 3 brisk 10-minute walks per day.
Muscle-strengthening activities should target major muscle groups in your body, i.e., abdomen, shoulders, arms, legs and hips, and should be done at least twice a week.
Older adults should also go for balance training classes, i.e., tai chi, to improve stability since they are at an increased risk of fall.
- Get Plenty of Calcium and vitamin D – both of which are vital for bone health.
There are no specific guidelines on the exact intake of calcium and vitamin D, but doctors suggest 1200 mg of calcium and 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily for most postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
To prevent the risk of falls and fracture in older adults aged 65 and older, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) recommends a daily intake of 1000 mg of calcium and 800-1000 IU of vitamin D.
- Maintain a Good Posture – it protects your joints from neck to back to hip.
Foot Care For Older People
Mostly neglected, foot pain is a common complaint among older adults. Advancing age “thins” your skin and makes it less elastic increasing your chances of foot problems such as chronic pain, blisters, corns, and foot infections in later life. Diabetic people are at an increased risk of numbness in legs and feet due to poor blood circulation. Apart from following the safety tips, consult your foot doctor today.
- Maintain foot hygiene. Cut and file toenails regularly.
- Keep your feet clean and warm. Moisturize dry and rough skin.
- Check for cracks, breaks and inflammation in the feet.
- Do not ignore fungal infections. Get them treated promptly.
- Get an annual foot exam if you are diabetic.
- Get gangrenes treated.
- Wear suitable socks and footwear.
Is Old Age Linked with Depression?
Many people, especially those living alone or with reduced connections, experience loneliness and depression. Depression is a seriously debilitating mental disorder that should not be confused with “having blues”, it not only devastatingly hampers an individual’s ability to participate in normal social activities, it also increases suicide ideation.
According to careful estimates, not less than 20% of people aged 55 years or older experience mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, and severe cognitive impairment. Older men, it seems, are at the receiving end of most of the illnesses; one of which is the suicide tendency. According to the epidemiological data, the suicide rate is highest in men aged 85 years or older i.e., 45.23 per 100,000.
Alcohol Use In Older People
While moderate amount of alcohol should not hurt you even in old age, you ought to know that over time your body becomes sensitive to alcohol. A slight misuse and it will harm you. You should limit alcohol intake and take no more than two glasses of alcohol per day if you are a man; one if you are a woman.
Alcohol dependency in your age is a big no!
Sex Advice For Older Adults
As you age, sex does not remain same for you, although admittedly it can still be satisfying and healthy. Contrary to the common beliefs and myths though, sex in old age isn’t a taboo. You should enjoy a healthy sex life by keeping a few important points in your mind:
- If you have arthritis, try sexual positions that do put as little pressure on your joints as possible.
- Know your body, it is not what it used to be in your prime. At 60, 70, or even 80, you and your partner will need more stimulation to reach erection and orgasm.
- Given the biology of your body, you will have shorter orgasms.
- If you have recently had a heart problem and are worried about sex, speak with your doctor.
- And lastly, while you are at it, enjoy the intimacy and sexual bliss. Don’t let your age shy you. The need for intimacy is ageless.
Do Vitamins Halt Aging?
Dermatologists believe following antioxidants have a proven efficacy in decreasing the effect and damage of the sun on the skin
- Selenium – protects skin cancer, preserves tissue elasticity and slows aging
- Vitamin E – protects cell membranes and prevents damages to enzymes
- Vitamin C – repairs free radicals and prevents the aging process
Can Aging Be Reversed? News From Science
Medical science has advanced; scientists are trying to discover, or invent, biological pathways that could halt aging. According to one study, scientists have found a way to rejuvenate aged and shriveled cells. A Harvard professor claims he can cure aging.
Fertility Preserving Options For Women with Advanced Age
Many women choose to delay childbirth until later years of their reproductive life. This delay strongly influences their fertility potential, i.e., fertility takes a steep decline after 35, and by age 45, almost 99% women become infertile. Fertility preservation options may be for such women.
Embryo cryopreservation (EC) – is a technique to preserve an embryo at sub-zero temperatures. Identical to in-vitro fertilization, EC involves controlled ovarian hyperstimulation with daily injectable gonadotropins, initiating typically in the early follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. The stimulation continues for approximately 10-14 days until there is a sufficient number of eggs in the ovaries. The eggs are then aspired by a needle where they are artificially fertilized with the sperm. The resulting embryo is cryopreserved and stored artificially until the woman is ready to conceive. The embryos can be preserved for up to 10 years.
EC is a successful and proven method for fertility preservation in women with advanced age. From the time of its first introduction in 1983, the technique has been successful in conceiving up to 200,000 babies.
Health Screenings For Older Adults
All older adults should visit doctors and undergo regular screening so that they can be assessed for future risk of medical problems, get vaccinated and live an overall better health.
Following screenings are recommended for all adults aged 65 and older
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening – if you are between 65-75 and have smoked
- Blood Pressure – Every two years if it is <140/90 mmHg; once every year if it is between 120-139/80-89 mmHg; and every three months, or as is required, if is >140/90 mmHg.
- Cholesterol Screening and Cardiovascular Diseases – Every 5 years.
- Lung Cancer Screening – Annually if you have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit in last 15 years.
- ColonCancer Screening – Annual fecal blood test and sigmoidoscopy every 5 years or colonoscopy every 10 years
- Breast Cancer Screening – Every two years if you are at an average risk for breast cancer
- Diabetes – Every three years if you are not diabetic
- Dental Exam – 1-2 times a year
- Eye Exam – 1-2 times a year
- Hearing Test – if you have symptoms
- Immunizations – pneumococcal vaccine once if you have not had a shot before or had one more than five years ago. You should also get an annual shot of flu vaccine; tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years; and a single shot for shingles, if required.
- Osteoporosis Screening – if you have a risk factor, i.e., family history, long use of steroid medications, a history of smoking and alcohol use and a history of fracture
- Prostate Cancer Screening – Talk to your doctor. Screening is not usually beneficial.