Getting older is a natural part of life and is a gradual and continuous process of change, as many bodily functions begin to gradually decline. The process usually begins in early adulthood and has been known to start as early as your twenties.
With that in mind, people don’t become old or elderly at any specific age. Instead, age is categorised in three different ways:
Chronologic Age: Chronologic age is based on the passage of time, as it is a person’s age in years and has limited significance in terms of health. As chronologic age helps to predict health problems it is often used in legal and financial cases.
Biological Age: Biological age refers to the different changes that commonly happen as someone gets older. As biological age takes into consideration lifestyle, habit and subtle effects of disease it can happen sooner in some people than others.
Psychologic Age: The well known saying “you’re only as old as you feel” can be applied here as psychologic age, is solely based on how a person acts and feels. This means a 75-year-old who works, takes part in activities and looks forward to future events could be considered to be psychologically young.
As your body starts to age there are some gradual changes you can expect to happen at your body’s own pace. This could depend on your family’s pattern of ageing as well as your lifestyle choices, which usually have a more powerful impact on how well your body will age.
Not everyone will experience the following changes when going through the ageing process, and a healthy lifestyle could definitely help to slow them down.
Vision is known to be one of the first things to decline as you begin to age, as several things can occur:
Hearing loss could develop suddenly, however, when it gradually starts to decline it can be considered another ‘normal’ aspect of ageing. Although exposure to noise over time can damage the ear’s ability to hear, some changes in hearing can occur as people age regardless of their exposure to loud noise.
General signs and symptoms of hearing loss could include:
Skin can change in many different ways as you age depending on your lifestyle, diet, family history and any other personal habits. The ways in which skin could change with ageing include:
With age, it is normal for hair to gradually thin on the scalp and as hair pigment cells decline in number, grey hair growth will increase. This is considered to be one of the clearer signs of ageing and can start as early as your 20’s.
During the ageing process nails are most likely to become thick, hard, brittle, develop ridges or start to yellow in colour. Although changes in nails could mean there is an underlying problem, most of these changes are commonly put down to age.
By the time someone turns 80 it is common for them to have lost as much as 2 inches in height as a result of changes in posture and compression of joints, spinal bones and spinal discs; even the gradual flattening of foot arches could contribute!
Sleeping patterns naturally change as you get older as adults may experience the following:
The skeleton provides support and structure to the body, however, as the body ages changes in posture and gait are common. There are many ways in which bones can change as they age, with some of the common ways including:
Over time, your body will typically need less energy, and so your metabolism will slow down. Hormone changes in the ageing body cause a shift, building more body fat instead of muscle mass.
As a normal stage of ageing, the heart will become naturally less efficient, meaning it will have to work a lot harder during activity than it did in the past. As a result, you’ll be able to notice a gradual decline in your overall energy and endurance from one decade to the next.
Similar to the heart, lungs will start to become less efficient and supply your body with less oxygen as your body ages.
Starting in your 30’s your brain’s weight, size and its blood flow will all start to decrease. Memory changes are a normal part of the ageing process and it’s common that with your brain’s capacity decreasing you will have less recall of recent memories.
It’s no secret that physical activity brings physical vitality, with each year of your life giving you more to gain from being physically active. Having an active lifestyle has been proven to improve your energy levels, mental sharpness, mood and balance. It is also considered a great aid for managing chronic illnesses and diseases including osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and obesity.
If you have been inactive for a while it’s important not to set your goals too high and start by aiming to move more each day. From there, you can build up to doing more and more to become physically active. It is advised, however, to see your doctor for a full physical examination before you start as they will be able to recommend the best forms of exercises to help you reach your goals.
Good nutrition plays an increasingly important role in the ageing process as it can make you feel better, sharpen your mind and help you live longer and stronger.
It has been proven that eating a low-salt and low-fat diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables can also help to reduce age-related risks of heart disease, diabetes or other chronic diseases. To get everything your body needs in order to age well you need to drink plenty of water each day and eat a mix of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
If you need any help with your diet and how to accommodate your daily intake to your energy levels you can speak to the NHS about seeing a registered dietitian.
Challenging the ageing process and remaining independent for as long as possible is something everyone wants to be able to do, with 82% of people saying they would prefer to stay in their own homes as they age.
Although many people are not able to remain safely in their own home – assisted living aids, adaptations and OT support can allow a large proportion of people to remain independent for as long as they possibly can. Common assisted living aids could include:
For more information on the ways in which Mangar Health could help you stay independent in your own home, please get in touch.