The world is aging. The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to double from 46 million to more than 98 million by 2060.It will be the first time in history than the number of older adults outnumbers children under age 5.
Normal age-related physical changes include the following:
BONES- once we reach the age of 30, bone marrow gradually starts to disappear from the bones in our arms and legs. There is also a reduction of calcium that leads to decreased bone mass. A fall can lead to serious injury and loss of independence. Talk to your provider about diet, exercise, vitamins and supplements to keep bones healthy and strong. Consider modifying your living environment to minimize the risk of falls. Remove hazards such as throw rugs and extension cords. Add grab bars in the bathroom and secure railings along stairs.
EYES- By age 40, almost everyone is reaching for reading glasses. Presbyopia occurs when the eye lens becomes stiff and won’t adjust to re focus from distance to near vision. Clouding of lens or cataracts may begin to affect your vision when you reach your 60’s. Long term exposure to sunlight increases risk of cataracts. Recommend sunglasses and adequate lighting in your home.
HEARING – Age related hearing loss (presbycusis) is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs in most of us as we grow older. About one in three people between the ages of 65-74 have hearing loss. Having trouble hearing can make it hard to understand and follow your provider’s advice, respond to warnings, hear phones, doorbells, and smoke alarms. Hearing loss can make it hard to enjoy talking to family and friends, leading to isolation. Because the loss is gradual, you may not realize you have lost some of your ability to hear. Some medications can affect your hearing. If you think you have a hearing problem, seek advice from your health care provider.
HEIGHT – Beginning in our 40’s, we lose one to two inches in height. Most of the loss occurs in the spine as the disks between vertebrae shrink.
MUSCLES – We experience a steady reduction in physical strength due to loss of muscle tissue, with the most rapid decline occurring after age 50. Be careful not to overdo it. Weight bearing exercises such as walking, dancing, or lifting weights can help you maintain muscle mass, strength and balance.
SKIN- Age spots and wrinkles become noticeable around age 40-50 and overall skin is less elastic. Skin is less resistant to cuts and bruises, especially if you are taking any blood thinner medications such as aspirin. Make sure dry skin is hydrated to help prevent cuts with moisturizing lotion and increase water hydration. Many older people are more sensitive to air temperature and less insulated from the cold with lower body weight, inactivity, and reduced muscle mass.
TEETH – With proper dental care, teeth should last a lifetime. As you age, your teeth will become more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Tooth decay, gum disease and discoloration of teeth occur with age. Keep your scheduled dental appointments twice a year for assessment and cleaning. Limit caffeine and carbonated beverages that can decrease dental enamel.
Continue to engage in routine preventative health behaviors, such as annual physical exams, lab work and immunizations (such as flu, pneumonia, shingles). If you feel anxious or depressed or are using alcohol or drugs to manage your mood, seek assistance. Untreated mental health problems are associated with poor physical health outcomes including increased disability, loss of independence, and decreased quality of life. The staff at Western Reserve Hospital is here to help with your health care needs as you age.