Monday, April 15, 2013

Changes in Aging

Ageing is not simply a course of time. It is the expression of biological events that occur over a period of time.

Different people age in different ways that affect both individual cells and organ systems. Some systems functions slowly as it used to be and some lose their functions completely. Fast and sudden changes may indicate serious health issues.  

Each one of us has unique physiological and physical aging process. Genes and environment are factors in aging. The most powerful factor is genetic. There are some genetic disorders that can speed up the aging process, such as Hutchinson-Gilford, Werner's, and Down Syndromes. 

On the hand, lots of environment conditions like quality of health care have considerable effect on aging. Another essential thing to consider in aging is healthy lifestyle. In many case, even if an older person wants to have a healthy lifestyle, they don't have any choice since their resources are limited. 

Support of caring community and government is needed in order to attain healthy lifestyle in this case. There are three categories once changes occur: physical, psychological, and social. 

Skeletal Changes
                As people age, posture and gait changes.  Bone mass or density is lost, the trunk becomes shorter, the spinal column becomes curved and compressed, hips and knee joints may begin to lose structure. In addition, the foot arches become less pronounced, contributing to slight loss of height. The calcium content of bones is gradually reduced, especially in women. The 25% bone calcium reduction (osteoporosis) is a rare condition in women. The bones of older people are more brittle and fragile. It takes longer time to heal the fractures due to less vigorous supply and healing process.  
Reproductive Changes
                As you age, reproductive system is changing in many ways. With aging, there is possibility of decrease in sex urge and slower sexual response. It may be less intense as usual but sex is continuously pleasurable as you age. Both men and women aging have different changes in their reproductive system. Let me start with men.
                In aging men, there is a decrease in secretion of sex hormone (testosterone) for about 35%.   The testes (male reproductive gland), decreases in size. The rate of sperm production slows down but it is not necessary to say that it is the same with every men. This may vary.  The   penile erection of aging men maybe delayed or cannot be achieve in some cases.
                With aging women, menopause occurs between 45 to 52 years. With this phenomenon, the production of estrogen (female sex hormone) is decrease by about 95%. This leads to reduced vaginal lubrication, thinning of vaginal mucosa, and shortening of vagina in length and width (atrophy). Women may experiences different symptoms relating to menopause like hot flushes, irritability, headaches, weight gain, forgetfulness, lack of focus, and palpitations.     
Sensory Changes
                All the senses are affected as you age. This may happen in different degree with different people. The most remarkable sensory changes are hearing and vision.  Sensory changes can affect a person in many ways including interaction with others, response to environment, mobility and independence to name a few. These have tremendous impact on ones lifestyle. With the advancement in technology nowadays, old people will not be deprived of   enjoying their everyday live. Assisting devices are available to compensate these changes.
1. Vision
The most sensory problem in older people is the visual impairment. There is a reduction of transmitted light due to flattening of the corneal surface of the eye. Wrinkles around eye also appear. A decline in visual acuity due to reduced elasticity of the lens (presbyopia) can also observed.
2. Sense of Hearing
Many old people suffer from difficulty in hearing or loss of hearing. This is more common in older men than in older women. And it is noted that people with Alzheimer's disease are more likely to have hearing problems than other older people. Middle ear membranes become less elastic with age while the ossicles (small bones in the middle ear) become stiffer causing decrease in hearing sensitivity. Such changes in the middle ear compromises the sense of balance leading to dizziness complains of older people.  Presbycusis (old man's hearing) is the term used to describe the loss of hearing with normal aging. It is distinguish by a decrease in sensitivity of higher frequency tones. This begins to happen around age 55. Another hearing problem that is usually encountered by older people is tinnitus. "Tinnitus refers to a chronic ringing, buzzing, tinkling or other noise in the ear that only the individual can hear".
3. Sense of Smell and Taste
The capacity to smell diminishes as we age. This is due to decrease number of smell receptors. The lack of ability to smell is rapid after the age of 50 and reduced by about half at the age of 80. Sensitivity to taste also diminishes as we age. The number of taste bud decreases. This two senses, work together to achieve the ability to distinguish spoiled food causing stomach problems and worse, food poisoning.
4. Sense of Touch
Sensitivity to touch is decreasing with age. Unable to response to painful stimuli can lead to accident.

by: lencilicious (also known as reallady  in Triond)

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