How Old Age Affects Our Body

Categories: Eldercare

As life goes on and a person becomes older, their body and mind also age with them. Operations of the human body begin to be more vulnerable and there is a general decline in physical and mental functioning. During the later half of life, an individual is more prone to have problems with the various functions of the body and to develop any number of chronic or fatal diseases. The cardiovascular, digestive, excretory, nervous, reproductive and urinary systems are particularly affected.

As a person ages, their heart rate becomes slightly slower and in most cases their heart becomes bigger. The cardiac muscle cells can die while fibrous connective tissues and adipose tissue of the heart can increase. The blood vessels and arteries also become stiffer which causes your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. This can lead to hypertension ,also known as high blood pressure and other vascular disease such as high levels of the good cholesterol, high triglyceride levels which is a type of fat found in the blood, obesity, diabetes which can increase risk of stroke and white matter disease.

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Keeping the brain healthy through good nutrition and physical activity is important to reduce the risk of (Thomas S. Rich, 2012) With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density. This weakens them and makes them more susceptible to fracture. Hip and vertebral compression fractures are two of the most common fractures found in people 65 years and older. People may even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength and flexibility, and balance and coordination tend to weaken.

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Maintaining a healthy weight also becomes more difficult as a person gets older. The muscle mass decreases and body fat takes its place. Fat tissue burns fewer calories than muscle does, fewer calories are needed to maintain the current weight. (A. D. Dinkins, 2018)

Within the digestive system, the changes associated with aging are largely caused by decreased nerve sensitivity, loss of muscle tone, and increased susceptibility to bacterial infection because of a weakened immune system. These, changes include loss of strength and tone of muscular tissue and supporting muscular tissue, decreased secretory mechanisms, decreased motility of the digestive organs, changes in neurosensory feedback regarding enzyme and hormone release, and diminished response to internal sensations and pain. Also, constipation is more common in older adults. Many factors can contribute to constipation, including a low-fiber diet, not drinking enough fluids and lack of exercise. This can also tie into the urinary tract. Loss of bladder control is common with aging. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, might contribute to incontinence. (Ethan J. Sutter, 2018)

The senses of the elderly also seem to diminish. People might have difficulty focusing on objects that are close up. Eyes become more sensitive to glare and have trouble adapting to different levels of light. Aging can also affect the eye’s lens, causing clouded vision, also known as cataracts. The lenses of the eye discolor and become rigid, interfering with the perception of color and distance and the ability to read. Without corrective glasses, nearly half the elderly population would be legally blind. Hearing also diminishes, especially the ability to detect high‐pitched sounds. As a result, the elderly may develop suspiciousness or even a mild form of paranoia in response to not being able to hear well. They may attribute bad intentions to those whom they believe are whispering or talking about them, rather than correctly attributing their problems to bad hearing. Hearing problems can be corrected with hearing aids.(Karen S. Cruickshanks,2016)

One common misconception is that it is inevitable that the elderly lose their teeth. This is not true. If the teeth are cared for properly, they can last a lifetime. The mouth changes with age and the nerves in teeth can become smaller, making teeth less sensitive to cavities or other problems. Bacteria called plaque is always forming on the teeth and if not removed it can cause soreness, swelling, and bleeding in the gums. It may even cause infections that damage the bone underneath.The gums might also recede from the teeth and certain medications could cause dry mouth. As a result, your teeth and gums might become slightly more vulnerable to decay and infection. If individuals do not get regular dental exams then it can lead to these problems not being diagnosed until it is too late.

Some of their reflexes slow down and fine motor abilities decrease with their old age. By late adulthood, most adults will have noticed a decrease in their reactions towards things. It has been proven that older adults score lower overall on activities of manual dexterity which is tests using hand-eye coordination. Their fine motor skills and performance speed also decrease in some areas but not in others. Memory might gradually become less efficient with age. It might take longer to learn new things or remember familiar words or names. (Richard Mann, 2011) Their cognitive abilities become different as their life progresses. Which is a huge factor to why they develop a lack in these areas that they have been relatively good at throughout their life. the brain decreases in size as people age which is a why a number of these changes occur.

Each neuron has a cell body and a number of processes called dendrites. These extend in many directions toward other neurons for receiving signals. During aging, the size, complexity, and efficiency of this decreases which causes the communication between the cells to become less effective. With each neuron there is an axon that transmits signals from one cell to another. These axons make up the most amount of matter in the brain. This becomes damaged due to aging which brings a decreased brain size. These and other structural brain changes along with aging go along with the age-related differences in cognitive tasks. For example, white matter deterioration in the front of the brain has been associated with people being slower at recalling information speed.

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How Old Age Affects Our Body. (2021, Dec 23). Retrieved from

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