Areas of Age-Related Change

We are always hoping that our elderly loved ones will experience the best quality of life and lead a more meaningful existence that they benefit from. As these loved ones age, sometimes they will experience disheartening things such as increasing lapses of memory or confusion, and you may ask yourself, “What is the viewpoint on their quality of life?” A many of people may choose to put a loved one in a nursing home, which we have discussed in previous articles at times. Physical well being is so important when it comes to the aging and all agree that social and physical support is more important than anything. But what age-related changes may people tend to discover as they age and these things become more prominent? (1)

Brain: Memory and Alzheimer’s Disease: As adults age, they may experience various types of forgetfulness. Sometimes this can be onset Alzheimer’s Disease in specific cases, rather than the memory loss just being accepted as a part of growing older as many people used to think. Scientists understand now that elderly people can remain alert and able as they go through the natural aging process even if it takes them longer to remember things than other people. These scientists are paying special attention to specific updates that will help aid in the process of helping others retain their memory as long as possible to lead a successful life. They have begun to focus on a cognitive change known as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) that may progress to AD, which will help them better understand memory loss as a full.

Bones and Joints: Bones bear weight as they age and movable joints take wear and tear. Osteoporosis may occur, which is a disease that weakens the bones during aging to the point where they may break more easily. Arthritis (which can include both Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis) can attack joints in almost every part of the body. These weakening conditions can carry symptoms like pain, swelling, and stiffness that can last hours. For prevention, sometimes calcium and vitamin D can be the best thing to consume.

Eyes and Ears: At age 40, eyesight greatly weakens, and at age 60, cataracts and macular degeneration may develop, as well as hearing generally declining with age. When it comes to sight, many different things may occur. Presbyopia is a slow loss of ability to see close objects or small print. Cataracts are cloudy areas in the eye’s lens, causing loss of eyesight. Glaucoma comes from too much pressure from the fluid inside of the eye, which can hurt the eye’s optic nerve. Retinal Disorders can also cause degeneration and blindness, but proper medical care, lifestyle changes, and follow-ups can help keep these numbers low.

When it applies to hearing, there are also many various conditions to be aware of. Presbycusis is age-related hearing loss. Tinnitus can make people hear a ringing, roaring, or even other noises inside their ear. It can be caused by loud noise, hearing loss, or even certain medications.

Digestive and Metabolic: Gastroesophageal reflux disease can occur in the elderly when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly and the stomach contents leak back into the esophagus. Some elderly people may experience pre-diabetes, which is a condition that raises a person’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Urogenital: Incontinence can apply to loss of bladder control. This can range from mild leaking to uncontrollable wetting and more women than men are likely to experience it. Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy is the prostate tends to grow bigger in men with age and may start to squeeze the urethra. These changes can cause problems with passing urine. Prostate Cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is conducting a clinical trial on the effectiveness and safety of three minimally invasive surgeries to treat prostate enlargement, which is common in more and more men as they age.

Dental: Gingivitis, Periodontitis, Loss of Teeth: As long as an elderly person has natural teeth in their mouth, tooth decay may be a problem. Gum diseases are infections that harm the gum and bone that hold the teeth in place. Gingivitis is damage caused by plaque and tartar being left on the teeth, and periodontitis comes after. This is when your gums pull away from your teeth and form pockets that can become infected. This can, in turn, ruin the bones, gums, and tissue that support your teeth.

Skin: Sunlight can be a major cause of the skin changes that happen to the elderly as they age, which can include wrinkles, dryness, and age spots. As skin ages, it becomes thinner and loses fat. Dry skin can feel rough and scaly and affects many older people, and can be caused by dehydration, sun exposure, smoking, and even stress. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States and something to be watchful of. Shingles is a disease that affects nerves and causes pain and blistering in adults. Just like chickenpox, people with shingles will feel sick and have a rash on their body or face. About one in five people who have had chickenpox will get shingles later in life, usually after age 50.

Functional Abilities: Falls become an increasingly common reason for injuries as people age. These can result from other changes in the body such as sight, hearing, muscle strength, coordination, and reflexes. The more that a person takes care of their overall health and well-being, the more likely they’ll lower their chances of falling.

 

(1) http://www.nursinghomeabusecenter.org/finding-a-home/is-it-time-for-a-nursing-home.html

(2) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/winter07/articles/winter07pg10-13.html

2015-05-17T19:06:36+00:00