As you become older, your body will undergo natural changes. Some of these shifts are inevitable, but the rate at which they occur depends on your own habits and preferences. The components of the human body include fat, lean tissue (muscles and organs), bones, and water. People lose muscle mass and strength after the age of 30. There is also a chance that some of the cells in your muscles, liver, kidneys, and other organs will die off. The reduction of muscle mass over time is referred to as atrophy. It is possible that bone density will decrease too due to mineral loss (a condition called osteopenia in the early stages and osteoporosis in the later stages). A decrease in total body water will also be experienced due to tissue breakdown. Hence, physical changes in the elderly are common and a natural occurrence. Continue reading to learn more.
Physical Changes in the Elderly
As we get older, we tend to experience a number of common physical changes and senior health problems. Of course, the health of the elderly is not uniform for the same reason that no two elderly people are the same. Yet, some are weak and sickly, while others are robust and healthy. Here is some information about the most recent elderly population.
- In the United States, about nine in ten people aged 65 and up live with at least one chronic health condition, with nearly three-quarters living with two or more.
- About two-thirds of annual deaths among those aged 65 and over are attributed to four chronic conditions: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
- The percentage of people over the age of 55 living with HIV is rising rapidly.
- Over 25% of persons aged 65-74 and 50% of adults aged 75 and older have a hearing impairment, which can be isolating despite its mild-to-moderate severity.
- As people get older, their eyesight changes, making it harder for them to do things like read, especially in low light or small print, or even drive at night.
- The proportion of elderly who require help with routine tasks rises with age. Out of people aged 65 to 74, less than 20% require help with ADLs including bathing, dressing, or eating. 40% of men and 53% of women over the age of 85 require such help.
- Compared to white older individuals, people of color are more likely to be overweight, develop diabetes, or have hypertension at an earlier age. Poverty, racial segregation, lack of educational opportunity, high unemployment, hostile work environments, discrimination, and inadequate health care are all factors that contribute to this inequality.
- Despite these mental and physical health difficulties, the majority of older persons who are not in a long-term care setting believe that their health is good, very good, or exceptional compared to others their age.
Here are several things you can do to age gracefully in terms of both physical and mental health:
- Maintain a regular exercise routine
- Keep a healthy lifestyle (quit smoking, reduce alcohol intake, stay socially active)
- Engage in preventive health behaviors (immunizations)
- Seek treatment for mental problems like stress
- Participate in community events (volunteering, festivals, gatherings)
- Pursue your personal interests