As we start to reach our golden years it’s only natural to begin looking for the effects of aging on the body.
From wrinkles to feeling more aches and pains after a long day, there are plenty of signs that you could be getting older.
But what are the normal symptoms of aging to look out for – and when should you see a doctor?
Ten Effects of Aging on the Body
The aging process affects all areas of the body, internally and externally. Knowing what’s normal – and what’s serious enough to need a doctor – are all part of maintaining healthy living for seniors.
Here are ten of the main symptoms of aging you should look out for:
1. Wrinkles and Thinning Skin
One of the earliest signs of aging can be seen in the skin. As cells lose their reproductive rate, our skin doesn’t replace itself as quickly as it used to. These cells are also depleted of fat and collagen, causing skin to sag.
Wrinkles can develop as early as your mid-twenties, but a good anti-aging skincare routine can help maintain your skin health as long as possible.
2. Hearing Loss
Hearing problems increase with age as the ear becomes more prone to infections, damage, or related illnesses.
You may experience hearing loss or difficulty with other issues such as tinnitus. This can be caused by a range of problems, such as being consistently exposed to loud noises, or related to other health problems such as vertigo.
Sudden hearing loss, long periods of ringing in your ears, or difficulty hearing normal conversation are all signs you should see a doctor.
3. Connective Tissue Stiffens Up
As cells lose their inability to divide and reproduce fast and without fault, your connective tissues in your internal organs can stiffen up. A common example of how this affects older people is with arteriosclerosis: the hardening of the arteries. Less flexibility in the arteries means the risk of blockage is increased.
You might not notice these connective tissue problems over time as the effect is mostly on internal organs, but it can lead to total organ failure of the kidneys, heart, and lungs after a long period of time.
4. Loss of Lean Muscle Mass
As your connective tissue degenerates, so does your muscle tissue. You’ll feel less flexible over time, and you could lose lean muscle mass if you don’t partake in regular exercise.
It’s easy to maintain your muscle mass and flexibility with exercise and a stretching program such as morning yoga.
5. Age-Related Memory Loss
There are many causes of age-related memory loss, which can sometimes be confused with dementia.
It could be something as simple as a slow thyroid causing ‘brain fog’, or a more serious illness such as Alzheimer’s Disease. If you’re showing signs of forgetfulness, see a doctor as they will be able to determine the root cause of your memory issues.
6. Osteoporosis and Arthritis
Your bones will lose density and can also develop arthritis. Osteoarthritis is worsened by stiff connective tissues or the growth of bone spurs, most commonly seen in the hip. Treatments include joint replacements and pain medications.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition and requires different types of treatment.
If you’re experiencing regular pain in any joints, or your hands and feet often swell, it’s time to see a doctor.
7. Eyesight Problems
Age-related eye problems can vary from a mild worsening in sight, such as not being able to read small print, to blindness.
Patients with diabetes are particularly prone to eye disorders, including glaucoma which can cause blindness if not treated.
Macular degeneration is another age-related eye problem, recognized in early stages as feeling like you have tunnel vision or dark spots.
Always see a physician if you’re experiencing vision problems as they can often be related to other illnesses.
8. Urogenital Issues
As connective tissues stiffen up, it becomes harder to maintain bladder control. Many older people suffer from urinary incontinence as a result.
Other problems can be seen in libido problems: lower sex drive in women after the menopause is often a combination of hormonal and psychological changes. Men sometimes suffer from erectile dysfunction, though there are many ways to prevent or minimize this as a problem.
9. Oral Health Degeneration
As with osteoporosis causing damage to bone density, your teeth will lose their strength over time and be more susceptible to breaking. Old fillings will also have an effect on the strength of your teeth.
You may also find that your sense of taste changes or fades away. Foods you once found tasty could now feel too bitter for you.
10. Digestive Changes
Age-related gastric problems cause a variety of symptoms. Regular acid reflux, or heartburn, is a common symptom of aging. Your esophagus may not be able to fully close as it used to, which causes reflux in the back of your throat.
Older people can also develop lactose intolerance as the ability to process the enzyme lactase reduces with age. This can be counteracted by taking lactase supplements before eating dairy.
You Can’t Prevent Aging – but You Can Slow It Down
Some people decide to cover themselves with elderly life insurance once they being to experience the symptoms of aging. It’s a good way to reduce stress in later life, which in itself can reduce the speed of the aging process on the body.
There are a few more ways you can slow down the effects of aging on the body:
Eat a Healthy Diet
Keep a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein to maintain muscle mass, and vegetables for vitamins and minerals.
If you’re struggling to maintain a balanced diet, consider taking a supplement designed for seniors to make sure you’re getting all of the vital nutrients you need to slow down signs of aging.
Take Regular Weight-Bearing Exercise
Your bones become weaker as you get older, but weight-bearing exercise can help maintain bone density into older age.
It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise: a walk around the local park with friends three times a week is plenty. Healthynewage online health magazine has a similar opinion on the subject.
Practice Mental Puzzles
Age-related memory loss may be slowed down with regular mental exercise.
Stay mentally sharp by practicing mental puzzles like Sudoku or crosswords. You can also play a game of Scrabble or chess with friends, or stay handy with numbers by challenging your grandchildren to card games.
How to Cope with Prescription Medication Side Effects
When you experience some of the more serious effects of aging on the body, it’s likely that you’ll need to go on some prescription medications.
These will help to minimize pain or reduce the symptoms of your age-related health issue, but prescription medication can have side effects of their own. Read this guide to learn how to cope with the side effects of your medications.