young woman running along the coast of a beach. How to reverse the hands of time: this is what happens as we age
young woman running along the coast of a beach. How to reverse the hands of time: this is what happens as we age

What Happens To Our Bodies As We Age? How To Slow Down The Hands Of Time

2 Shares
An illustration of a round tree loosing leaves in the wind with some of the leaves creating a human in the middle of the tree

Are humans aging slower? Can aging be reversed? Can aging be prevented?

Well if there is one thing for sure, we all age. It is inevitable and does not discriminate. But we can make a difference in ‘HOW’ we age. We can age with fun, happiness, and purpose. I like to think of it as aging vibrantly & gracefully.

When I say this, what I am referring to is the things we can control to make the aging process more comfortable, more fulfilling and, create a more vibrant life.

I have also witnessed those who have made changes in their later years and have become more active and happy by taking control of what they experience now. It is never too late to make changes.

Working with seniors throughout my career I have noticed that people age differently. Part of it is what they have done/experienced throughout their lives, as well as genetics and other factors such as health problems and lifestyle.

Being in my midlife right now, I know first hand how the aging process can affect us not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. And I will admit that it took me quite a while to get my head wrapped around it.

Aging is something we all do, but often know little about. The vitality we once knew as young men and women are now gone, and this very thought can be stressful to deal with. 

The truth is that people often fear what they do not know or understand.

My goal with this article is to take an in-depth look at what happens to the body as we age and to give some tips and advice as to how we can combat, slow down and make this process easier and more enjoyable, to live out a vibrant and exciting final phase of our life here on earth.

So the quick answers to those first questions are:

1) We all age at different rates.

2) Some aging processes can be reversed to some extent.

3) And No, unfortunately, aging cannot be prevented…. But we can have an effect on how we age.

WHAT IS AGING?

One definition states that aging is ‘senescence’: the process of deterioration with age.

I always say “Age is just a number… if you didn’t know how old you were… how old would you be?”

So although our bodies do change and do age, we can feel younger than our chronological number. Now I will be honest and say some days I feel quite young and full of energy and other days…. Not so much!!

The human body is impressive. It can be resilient but begins to break down as the years go by. The wear and tear of life itself starts to show in our physical and mental states. We begin to change both internally and externally.

Aging includes not one but many factors:

A graphic of a human head made out of clocks

Chronological Age –

    • the length of time expressed by years/months/ days since birth

Biological age –

    • What happens at the cellular level and all the internal effects.
A graphic showing the process of telomere shortening
A graphic of three human heads made out of metal gears and cogs

Psychological age –

People can have different mental ages, some seeming much older or younger than their chronological age. 

  • This can vary from person to person.
  • This affects how a person moves physically.

We have used phrases to describe someone as “she has an old soul” or “she is young at heart”

Individuals capabilities of mental or cognitive functioning:

    • Self-esteem
    • Self-efficacy
    • Learning
    • Memory
    • perceptions

Social age:

    • Society has a notion of what is considered appropriate or not appropriate for someone of a particular age (Setterston, 2003)
An elderly man having fun pushing another elderly man on a skateboard
  • And those of the older generation can have a perception of “what” they should or shouldn’t do based on their age group.

Functional age –

    • a combination of biological, psychological, and social aging

Genetics:

    • Heredity, what has been passed down to you by your parents, your grandparents, your great grandparents
  • The color of your hair, your skin tone, your looks, medical issues, and your aging process are some things that can be passed down from generation to generation.

WHY DO SOME PEOPLE APPEAR TO AGE FASTER THAN OTHERS?

People have different patterns of aging and different life experiences which all contribute to ones aging process.

We have a chronological age, but we also have a biological age. Two people can be the same chronological age, but one could be biologically 10 years older or younger than the other.

Although we are aware that heredity plays a factor in our aging process, and we can take a look at our parents and grandparents to see what things have affected their lives and longevity, heredity is not the only factor of how well we age… or not so well.

Now there is strong evidence that there are many aspects to the aging process that are related to environmental factors and influence this transition through the years. Such as:

  • culture
  • diet
  • stress
  • smoking
  • exercise
  • leisure
  • past illnesses.

We are all unique individuals so these changes which occur can happen at different rates and to varying degrees from one person to the next.

Physical fitness and aging research are showing that physically fit individuals may be functionally younger than less-fit individuals of the same chronological age.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Aside from the obvious things we relate to aging, such as gray hair and wrinkles, there are other factors that we don’t see so clearly but ‘feel.’ Aging affects your teeth, sexuality, even right down to the cellular level amongst other things.

1. Cellular aging:

What changes are taking place?

Cells are the basic building blocks of tissues. As we age all cells experience change. 

  • A cell can replicate itself about 50 times before its genetic material is no longer able to be copied accurately, due to shortened telomeres (Hayflick limit)
Four shortened telomeres
  • Telomeres: are the protective protein structures which cap the ends of chromosomes.
  • When cells divide, over the years these telomere caps tend to shorten and may not be replicated correctly.
  • As the cells in our body age, they become larger and less able to divide and multiply (senescence). This leads to their inability to function or to function normally
  • As the aging cells and tissue change, so also do your organs change.

Here’s what we can do to help:

  • Research is studying ways to slow down the rate of telomere shortening through activities like exercise and stress-reduction techniques

A research study showed that there was a positive impact on cellular aging in apparently healthy individuals with Yoga and meditation

  • After 12 weeks, there were significant improvements in cardinal biomarkers and metabotropic biomarkers influencing cellular aging compared to the baseline values
  • Research has also shown that regular exercise increases the telomere length among active individuals compared to sedentary individuals in the older population.

(1)(2)(11)

2. Aging and Hormones

What changes are taking place?

A graphic showing estrogen hormone levels declining as we age
A graphic showing the gradual hormonal decline of testosterone as we age
  • As we age, there are changes to our hormonal levels. This occurs in both men and women
  • The hypothalamus is found in the brain and produces hormones. Hormones control the function of organs and travel through the bloodstream.
  • Testosterone levels usually decrease gradually as men age.

Menopause: What causes menopause symptoms? Hormonal Changes.

A graphic showing the different symptoms of menopause
  • In women, estrogen and prolactin levels often decrease significantly.
  • Your ovaries are the source of estrogen and progesterone. These two essential hormones control the reproductive system which includes the menstrual cycle and fertility. 
  • In the years leading up to menopause (perimenopause) our hormone levels (mainly estrogen) produced by the ovaries are changing

Here’s what we can do to help:

Menopause does not require any medical treatment, it is not an illness but a natural process of life.

But there are treatments/remedies that may help relieve your signs and symptoms. Treatments are also available to help prevent or manage chronic conditions that may occur with aging.

There are things you can do yourself, alternative treatments and medical treatments.(7)

LIFESTYLE CHANGES AND HOME REMEDIES

Many of the symptoms that come with menopause are temporary. Here are some steps you can take to help reduce and prevent the effects:

1. Cool your Hot Flashes:

    • Wear layers
    • Keep a cold water bottle near by.

Try to pinpoint what triggers your hot flashes, is it: hot beverages, spicy foods, caffeine, stress, alcohol, warm weather???

2. Decrease vaginal discomfort:

    • Use water-based vaginal lubricants
    • Silicone-based lubricants or moisturizers
    • Staying sexually active can also help increase the blood flow to the vagina taking away discomfort

3. Sleep well:

    • Getting enough sleep is essential
    • Avoid caffeine and too much alcohol which can disrupt your sleep
    • Exercise during the daytime

4. Practice relaxation techniques

    • Mediation – slow paced deep breathing
    • Massage and progressive muscle relaxation
    • Warm shower or bath

5. Pelvic Floor Strengthening:

    • Can help with issues of urinary incontinence
    • Kegel exercises: the muscles you would use to stop the flow of urine. Practice using those throughout the day.

6. Diet:

    • Eating a balanced diet including a variety of fruits, vegetable and whole grains
    • Limit sugars, oils and saturated fats

It may be a good idea to check with a nutritionist/dietician to make sure you are getting all the vitamin and minerals you need, otherwise you may need a supplement

7. Exercise:

    • Regular physical activity on most days will help to protect against heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other aging conditions.

8. Do not smoke:

    • This increases your risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis along with other health problems
    • Could also bring on early menopause
    • Can increase hot flashes

ALTERNATIVE METHODS:

There have been many different approaches to managing the symptoms of menopause, but few have the scientific evidence to back up their claims.

Some of the complementary and alternative treatments being studied are:

A person applying acupuncture to another person's back
  1. Yoga
  2. Acupuncture
  3. Hypnosis

4. Plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) which occur naturally in certain foods.

5. Bioidentical hormones which come from plant sources.

MEDICAL TREATMENT

Before deciding on any form of treatment, talk with your doctor about your options and the risks and benefits involved with each type of treatment.

Treatments may include:

  1. Hormone Therapy: to help with hot flashes
  2. Vaginal estrogen: to help relieve vaginal dryness, discomfort with intercourse and some urinary symptoms
  3. Low-dose antidepressants: some types may help decrease menopausal hot flashes and mood disorders.
  4. Gabapentin: although this is approved to treat seizures, it has also been shown to help reduce hot flashes.
  5. Clonidine: a pill, or patch typically used to treat high blood pressure, might provide some relief from hot flashes.
  6. Medications to prevent or treat osteoporosis: To help reduce bone loss and risk of fractures. Your doctor may prescribe vitamin D supplements to help strengthen bones.

 

Review your options yearly, as your needs may change and there may be newer better options for you to try.

(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(11)(24)

3. Cumulative Damage:

What changes are taking place?

Over time the accumulation of external factors will harm our bodies. This can lead to tissue damage and the body’s inability to repair or even maintain tissues, organs, and cells.

  • Damage from the environment
  • Exposure to the sun
  • Pollution
A graphic of a person sticking out there tongue with a load of garbage and pollution on their tongue
  • Exposure to toxins
  • smoking

Here’s what we can do to help:

I think just being aware makes a huge difference.

  • Environment: Think about your surroundings and the environment you allow yourself to live in. If you can change it, do so.
  • Sun Exposure: It seems that nowadays the suns rays are much stronger than in years gone by. Wearing sunscreen and not exposing yourself in the times during the day when the sun is most intense will help.
  • Pollution: let’s do our part to keep our immediate surroundings, our community, town, city clean.
  • Exposure to toxins: This can include household cleaning items too. Be aware of what you are breathing in or putting onto your skin.
  • Smoking: There has been tons of research showing the adverse effects of tobacco. So quitting would definitely be a good thing.

4. Your Muscular-Skeletal System (bones, joints, and muscles)

The bones make up our skeletal system, and where bones meet we have a joint. Some joints have little to no movement, and others have a greater range of motion allowing the body to move and bend.

In the joint, bones are not in direct contact with each other but instead are cushioned by articular cartilage, which protects the ends of the bones. 

Synovial membranes around the joint containing the synovial fluid which lubricates the joint.

Ligaments keep the joints in place.

Muscles attach to the bones via tendons and the force and strength they produce move the body through their contractions.

The muscles coordinate with the brains’ directions.

What changes are taking place?

Functional:

A graphic showing joint damage as we age
  • Changes in the muscles, joints, and bones can affect our posture
  • Our walking gait and our speed becomes shorter and slower
  • Older adults who, whether consciously or unconsciously have a fear of falling will start to ‘shuffle’ their feet as they walk, changing their gait pattern.
  • Movement slows and may become limited and unsteady
  • Coordination, stability, and balance can be affected as we lose strength endurance and flexibility in our muscles and joints
  • Some may have reduced reflexes due to changes in the muscles and tendons

Bones:

  • Bones will shrink in both size and density, and as they weaken, they become more prone to fractures.
  • The question has been asked when an elderly person falls and breaks their hip, ‘did the hip break then the fall happened…. Or did they fall and break the hip?’
  • According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the highest cause of death related to injury among seniors.
  • Bone mass or density can be lost as we age, especially for post-menopausal women. This could lead to osteoporosis
  • The bones lose Calcium and other minerals
  • Osteoporosis: the bones become more porous as minerals are lost.
  • Vertebrae can also lose some of their mineral content, which will make the bone thinner. You often hear from older adults how they ‘shrunk’ over the years.
  • The spinal column may become curved and compressed.

Joints:

  • Synovial fluid in the joints can decrease, and there can become less space between the two bones.

Decrease in the disc space in the vertebrae along with the bone thinning itself can actually affect your height, making you shorter.

A graphic comparing a normal spine and an osteoarthritic spine
  • Joints become less flexible and stiff.
  • Calcification can occur around some joints (mineral deposits). Quite often it is the shoulder joint that is affected.
  • The breakdown of joints may lead to inflammation, stiffness, pain, and deformity.
  • These changes within the joints may lead to not only minor stiffness but also to severe arthritis.

Muscles:

  • Lean body mass decreases. Muscles can begin to atrophy, becoming smaller and weaker.
  • Muscles may have less tone and less ability to contract due to the changes not only in the tissue but also in the nervous system.
  • There can be a loss not only in strength and endurance but also extensibility (how far the muscle can stretch), these are factors that can affect your balance, coordination, and stability.
A human body showing the muscular system and what happens as we age
  • Loss of muscle strength = fatigue = weakness = reduced activity tolerance.
  • Involuntary movements such as muscle tremors and fine movements (fasciculations) are more common in older adults.

Here’s what you can do to help:

There are indeed lots you can do to help slow this process down and in many cases reverse the effects.

We need to promote good bone, joint and muscle health which in turn will also help us with our functional movement patterns.

INCLUDE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY IN YOUR DAILY ROUTINE

  • Helps you remain functional and maintain your independence through the ability to stay active without restrictions.
  • Exercise is one of the best ways to slow down or prevent any problems that may arise with the muscles, joints, and bones.
  • A moderate exercise program can help you to maintain your strength, balance, and flexibility.
  • Epidemiological studies suggest that regular physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of ADL (activities of daily living) disability in older adults (Liu & Fielding 2011)
  • Studies have also suggested that even those with chronic health conditions can still improve their physical function by remaining active and physically fit (ACSM 2009; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008)

If you are a frail and dependent older adult, seek the help of a Physical Therapist or Personal Trainer to help bring you into a more physically fit and independent category.

Also, improving your balance and mobility will significantly improve your quality of life.

A young female personal trainer assisting an older woman in doing a sit up

After getting clearance from your doctor, talk to a Physical Therapist or Personal Trainer who specializes in working with the senior population.

Some types of exercises you can do:

  • Weight-bearing exercises like weight training
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Tennis
  • Climbing stairs
  • Swimming/aquafit
  • Rowing
  • Whatever gets you moving 

The key is to find something that you enjoy doing and if it can include the social aspect, all the better.

The WHO’s (World Health Organization) Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health (2010) gives a strong endorsement for those ages 65 and older. (31)(32)

There is compelling evidence that regular physical activity can help in avoiding, minimizing, and/or reverse in some cases many of the physical, psychological, and social hazards that will often accompany those with advancing age.

CALCIUM:

Get adequate amounts of calcium (6). Try to get your recommended intake through foods and liquids versus supplements.

A display of foods that contain calcium

If you feel that you are not getting enough speak to a dietician or your doctor. 

Despite the new findings which show we do not need the previously recommended amounts, it is still recommended to follow the Institute of Medicine’s guidelines of 1200 mg daily for women over the age of 50, 1000 mg daily for men 51-70 years old and 1200 for those above 70 years of age.

Ways to get calcium in our diets, consume:

    • Dairy products, such as cheese, milk, and yogurt
    • Dark green leafy vegetables, like broccoli and kale
    • Sardines and canned salmon (fish with edible soft bones)
    • Calcium-fortified foods and beverages
A display of foods that contain vitamin D

VITAMIN D:

The body doesn’t produce calcium on its own, and we need vitamin D to help with the absorption.

The recommended daily intake is 600 international units (IU) for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU for adults over 70.

Ways to get vitamin D in our diets:

    • Natural sunlight 
    • Tuna,
    • Salmon
    • Eggs
    • Vitamin D-fortified milk
    • Supplements if needed (speak to a dietician or your doctor)

AVOID SUBSTANCE ABUSE:

    • Avoid Smoking
    • Limit alcoholic intake (you can check with your doctor for what is appropriate for your age)

(4)(6)(7)(11)(13)(14)(28)(30)(31)

5.Your cardiovascular system (heart)

What changes are taking place?

Some changes in the heart and blood vessels are standard with the aging process. Cardiovascular health declines with advancing age, especially in sedentary people.

With the most common change being a stiffening of the blood vessels and arteries, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood.

These changes increase the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) as well as other cardiovascular problems.

  • The heart muscle changes to adjust to the increased workload placed upon it
  • A slight increase in the size of the heart occurs
  • The heart wall thickens, therefore the amount of blood held in the chamber may decrease. Consequently, the heart may fill more slowly.
  • Abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias), like atrial fibrillation are more common in older adults.
  • Deposits of the “aging pigment” lipofuscin occur as the heart ages. Lipofuscins is thought to be the waste products of oxidative metabolism, that are stored within each cell of the body and accumulate over time. (9)
  • The valves within the heart, which are in charge of controlling the direction of blood flow, thicken and become stiffer. This can lead to a heart murmur which is common in older adults.

BLOOD:

  • With normal aging there is a natural reduction in total body water, which makes less fluid in the bloodstream, so blood volume decreases.
  • There is a reduction in the speed with which red blood cells are produced, due to stress or illness.
  • While most of the WBC (white blood cells) stay at the same levels, certain WBC which are essential to immunity decrease in their number and ability to fight off bacteria which in turn will reduce the ability to resist infection.

An older heart when worked harder may not be able to pump blood as well. What can cause the heart to work harder?

  • Emotional stress
  • Physical exertion
  • Illness
  • Certain medications
  • Illness
  • Infections
  • Injuries

Here’s what you can do to help:

While measures of cardiovascular functioning will typically decline with age, individuals that are physically fit and active sometimes exhibit slower declines in function than less healthy individuals of the same age (Corbi et al. 2012)

For example, highly trained individuals who maintain high activity levels often experience little or no decline in VO2 max over periods of a decade or more (Gent & Norton, 2013) (8)

So although we cannot postpone the age-related declines in aerobic power forever, evidence shows that significant increases in cardiovascular efficiency can increase in old age with even the modest levels of physical activity.

Include regular moderate physical activity into your daily routine. This will help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of heart disease

    • Find an event that you like to do. This will lead to compliance regularly
    • Consider swimming, walking, cycling, tennis, etc..

Eat a heart-healthy diet

    • Eat a variety of vegetables
    • Fruit
    • Whole grains
    • High fiber foods
    • Lean sources of protein like fish
    • Reduce foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt.

Do not smoke. This contributes to the hardening of your arteries and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. There is assistance out there to help you quit, speak to your doctor.

    • Men between the ages of 65 – 75 who have ever smoked throughout their lifetime should be screened for aneurysms in their abdominal aorta.

Stress Management. Stress can cause so many problems for our bodies, including the heart.

graphic showing different ways to manage stress as we age: nature, yoga, music, therapy, spa, exercise, and hobbies
  • Find ways to Reduce Stress
  • Meditation
  • Breathing exercises
  • Exercise
  • Take a walk, primarily through a forest

Having adequate sleep in essential

    • Quality sleep plays a vital role in the healing process and repair of your heart and blood vessels
    • Take naps during the day if you need to
    • Try for eight to nine hours a night.

Exercise:

    • Can help prevent obesity
    • Helps people with diabetes control their blood sugar
    • Reduces stress

Have regular check-ups on your heart

    • BP (blood pressure) checked

BLOOD LIPIDS:

  • Exercise is now commonly associated with a decrease of CHD (cardiovascular heart disease) risk.

The American Heart Association recognizes sedentary living as an independent risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis (Mosca et al., 20011)

graphic showing the different phases of atherosclerosis
  • Studies have shown that those who exercise regularly show favorable biochemical profiles, meaning reduced LDL (low-density lipoprotein… considered the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and higher HDL (high-density lipoprotein…considered the ‘good’ cholesterol), when compared to sedentary individuals of the same chronological age.

(4)(7)(8)(9)(11)(13)(14)

6. DIGESTIVE SYSTEM:

What changes are taking place?

graphic showing the different parts of the digestive system

Although changes do occur the digestive system is less affected by the aging process than most other organs of the body. And for the most part, you will not notice the changes that go on in this system.

  • The esophagus muscles contract with less force but the movement of food is not affected.
  • Constipation: The digestive tract is not as elastic becoming firmer and more rigid so it cannot hold as much food and the food is emptied from the stomach more slowly.
    • This slow moving can lead to constipation, nausea and stomach pains.
    • Lack of exercise can also lead to constipation
    • Not drinking enough fluids throughout the day
    • Low levels of fiber in their daily diet will also contribute to constipation
    • Certain Medications
    • Medical conditions, such as diabetes
  • Stomach acid and saliva production slow down which may lead to possible choking and may be more susceptible to food-borne illnesses as the harmful bacteria becomes harder for your body to dispose of.
graph comparing normal lactose digestion and lactose intolerance

Less lactase (an enzyme the body uses to digest milk) in the digestive tract

  • This can cause lactose intolerance in the older adult. This will lead to feeling bloated, gassy and diarrhea after the consumption of milk products.
  • Liver: tends to become smaller with less blood flow through it.
    • Liver enzymes work less efficiently, therefore, affecting the removal of drugs and other substances
    • This leads to the effects of medications to last longer than intended.

Here’s what you can do to help:

To help prevent constipation:

  • Eat a healthy diet which includes high-fiber foods: fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Limit high-fat meats
  • Limit sweets
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Include physical activity daily
  • If you need to have a bowel movement do not hold it back find a washroom.
  • Limit dairy products: which will also help with any lactose intolerance that may have developed
  • Chew your food slowly and thoroughly to avoid any chance of choking

(10), (11), (12), (13), (14)(15)

7. YOUR BRAIN: Memory, thinking and problem-solving skills

This is something many people worry about as they age. Losing keys, forgetting names, walking into a room and totally not remembering what you walked in there for, but these are everyday experiences.

I know the fear of developing Alzheimer’s often enters the mind of the aging population, the good news is that the disease is not a normal part of aging.

It is important to understand though that our brains do change over time. If you are concerned that brain changes (memory, thinking, problem-solving) are more than you would typically expect, you should visit your medical doctor. But don’t immediately assume it is Alzheimer’s or a form of dementia.

When to see a specialist?

Keep in mind that there are other physical and psychological conditions which are reversible that can lead to memory problems

Such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Anxiety
  • Infections
  • Medications
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Thyroid imbalance
  • Poor nutrition

So when should you go seek out professional help, see your doctor and/or a psychologist for a complete assessment?

Usual memory problems do not affect your everyday life. But if you forget what keys are used for or how to turn off your oven, or how to perform daily tasks or not being able to recall the names of your loved ones, this is not part of healthy aging, and you should seek attention.

What Changes are Taking Place?

  • Episodic memory: the ‘what, where, and when’ of our daily lives can decline. “What was I suppose to do?”, “Where is my car parked?“, “When was I suppose to be at the doctor’s?
  • Nerves may conduct signals more slowly and repair themselves slower and more incomplete then when we were younger. This will often go unnoticed as it is so minimal.
  • Although the number of nerve cells in the brain will decrease with age, it is very good at compensating in many ways.
    • Through making new connections between the remaining nerve cells
    • In other areas of the brain, even when aging, new nerve cells are forming
    • We have an abundance of cells that are needed for most activities.
  • Reaction time and task performance may slow down, but can still be performed accurately.
  • Some mental functions such as short-term memory, learning new things, vocabulary and word recollection may be subtly reduced after the age of 70.
  • Multi-tasking may become more difficult for the aging mind.

Here’s what you can do to help:

The good news is that there have been many research studies that show the brain remains capable of regrowth, learning and retaining new knowledge and skills throughout our lifetime.

mans brain and what happens to the brain as we age

MRIs show that adults who exercise regularly have a bigger hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for learning and memory

This shows true for those who get regular exercises and constant intellectual stimulation. This, in turn, helps to keep the mind sharp

And as stated before we are all individuals so, therefore, some will continue to improve their cognitive abilities well into old age, while others will remain constant, and some will decline.

Semantic memory: the ability to recall concepts and general facts not related to specific experiences will continue to improve for many older adults. i.e., language, vocabulary, understanding that keys open doors, lights turn on and off, etc..

Scientists have identified ways to minimize age-related changes and improve everyday memory function. The following are some tips on how to improve brain function:

  • Get Moving! Physical activity and exercise help to boost and maintain brain function by increasing blood flow to the whole body, including your brain. It also helps reduce stress and depression which will also affect memory.

Eat a healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet may benefit your brain. (16)

    • Vegetables! But you knew this, didn’t you?
      • Especially cruciferous ones like broccoli, cabbage, and your dark green leafy vegetables
      • Try using kale in your salad or collard greens in your sandwich wrap
  • Fruits! Look for what fruit is in the season for your area and add it to your cereals, salads or antioxidant-rich deserts. The ones that show to boost memory are:
    • Berries, especially the darker varieties such as blackberries, , and cherries may increase your memory function due to their richness in anthocyanins and other flavonoids.
    • Fresh or frozen you will reap the benefits
  • whole grains. And of course the closer you are to them being naturally grown the better.
  • Low-fat protein sources! Such as lean meat, skinless poultry, and fish.

Get adequate omega-3 fatty acids in your diet to help improve memory.

  • Seafood, algae and fatty fish are some excellent sources
    • Salmon
    • Bluefin tuna
    • Sardines
    • herring
  • substitute fish for meat a couple of times each week to get a good healthy dose.
  • Grill, bake or broil your fish for the best nutrition and flavor.
  • If you don’t eat fish, see a dietician for alternate ideas, such as fish oil, seaweed or microalgae supplements.
  • Walnuts! Known for their positive impact on heart health, they may also improve cognitive function. There are many creative ways to add them to your diet.
  • Alcohol! Avoid too much alcohol which can lead to confusion and memory loss.

Stay Mentally Active: Train your brain.

  • Read
  • Play word games and crosswords. Challenge yourself with some harder ones.
  • Find a hobby
  • Take a class on something you want to learn or improve on
  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Learn a new language
  • Find a new route to get to your supermarket or to the golf course
  • Learn and try a new recipe

Be Social: This is important at any age but really helps to ward off depression and stress in our declining years, which can contribute to memory loss.

  • Volunteer at a local school or non-profit organization
  • Attend social events or join a group
  • Spend time with family and friends. Spend time with at least one person every day.

Stay Positive:

    • Don’t fall into the belief that your memory will fade as you age
    • Studies show that positive feelings about how your age can improve not only how you feel but enhance memory performance in older adults.
    • Join a support group to talk to others of the same age and same concerns with aging.

Eyes & Ears! It is difficult to learn and gain knowledge if you can’t see or hear well.

  • Make sure you wear your prescription glasses and get your eyes tested.
  • If you have hearing aids.. wear them! Have your hearing checked regularly

Have regular check-ups with your doctor! To make sure all is well and any issues are dealt with.

    • Treat cardiovascular disease.
    • Manage risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes

Avoid distractions! Or anything that diverts your attention.

    • Trying to do too many things at once
    • Loud background noises will be distracting.
    • Even letting your thoughts just wander can distract. Focus on the task at hand.

Quit Smoking! Quitting smoking may help your cognitive health, as well as the rest of your health.

Using memory aids is OK! This will not only help you to remember but will also help you gain and maintain confidence.

    • Keep “to do” lists
    • Set a routine
    • Take your time, don’t rush
    • Everything has its place, keep it there
    • Use associations
    • Keep a calendar

(4)(11)(13)(14)(15)(16)(17)

8. YOUR KIDNEYS, BLADDER AND URINARY TRACT

Things we don’t necessarily want to talk about but are happening to our bodies. This can be very frustrating but being aware and knowing your options is essential.

The good news is that if you are generally healthy, your urological system will more then likely work as well as when you were younger. And if not, there is an array of therapies that you can talk to your doctor about that can help when problems arise.

What Changes are Taking Place?

Kidneys:

  • The number of cells decreases in the kidneys which tend to make them smaller
what happens to kidney cells as they age
  • The blood flow through the kidneys decreases as we age which leads to less filtering and unable to remove waste products from the blood as well as they use to. But they almost always function well enough to meet the needs of the body.

Urinary Tract: changes in the urinary tract can make it challenging to control urination.

  • The max amount of urine that your bladder can hold decreases making the need to urinate happen more often.

Bladder: becomes less elastic as we age, resulting in the need to urinate more often.

  • The bladder muscles and the pelvic floor weaken, resulting in the inability to empty the bladder as well, leaving urine in the bladder after urination
  • The urinary sphincter which controls the passage of urine out of the body is less able to close tightly which will lead to leakage.
  • Because of this, it is more difficult for the older adult to have to postpone urination and that urinary incontinence becomes more common in the aging population
  • The need to go to the bathroom during the night tends to happen around the age of 60, which will disrupt your sleep pattern.
  • In men, the prostate gland tends to enlarge which will interfere with the passage of urine and the bladder fully emptying and become unable to urinate even with a full bladder. This disorder requires immediate medical care.
  • Stress incontinence, when you pee a little when coughing or sneezing. This affects one in three women in the 60’s.

Aside from the previously mentioned changes, other issues that can contribute to incontinence are being overweight, diabetes, caffeine, certain medications, nerve damage from diabetes and alcohol intake.

Here’s what you can do to help

Promoting good bladder and urinary tract health is vital.

  • Go to the toilet regularly.
  • Increase the strength of your pelvic floor by doing kegel exercises. These are the muscles you use to stop the flow of urine when going to the bathroom. Start with holding for 3 – 5 seconds then relax for 3 seconds. Work your way up to doing this 10 – 15 times a session, and 3 times a day.
graphic showing how to keep your bladder healthy
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Try to avoid or limit bladder irritants which will make incontinence worse. Things such as carbonated beverages, acidic foods, alcohol, and caffeine.
  • Do not smoke
  • Constipation can also worsen incontinence. Make sure your diet includes fiber
  • To help with getting up through the night to urinate, try decreasing your fluids after 6pm and avoid caffeine in the afternoons.

(4)(11)(13)

9. NOSE, MOUTH, AND TEETH

OK, onto the face now… yup, nothing escapes aging. ๐Ÿ™‚

It tends to start in our 50’s, this is a time when the ability to taste and smell begins to diminish gradually.

These changes in our sense of smell and taste can be dangerous if you accidentally consume food or beverages that have gone bad which can cause food poisoning.

What Changes are Taking Place?

Nose:  Our sense of smell is used to smell not only vibrant scents but also the subtle and complex flavors of food such as a raspberry.

  • With aging, the lining of the nose becomes thinner and drier
  • The nerve endings begin to deteriorate
  • Our sense of smell begins to decline but is slight and effects more of the subtle fragrances
  • As we hit old age, the nose tends to enlarge and lengthen, and the tip can begin to droop.
  • Thick hairs may grow in the nasal cavity as well as the upper lip and chin.

Mouth: The tongue can identify five basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami.

graph showing the different part of the tongue and where bitterness, sourness, umami, sweetness, and saltiness are experienced
  • As we age our taste buds decrease in sensitivity affecting more of the sweet and salty flavors more so than the bitter and sour.
  • Dryness more often due to less saliva being produced. Certain medications can also cause dry mouth, like those that treat allergies, asthma, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
  • This dryness can also affect the taste of food.

Teeth:  Gums can recede slightly exposing them to food particles and bacteria.

  • Tooth enamel can begin to wear away
  • These two changes along with dry mouth can lead to decay, infection, and cavities, which in turn could lead to tooth loss and gum disease.

Here’s what you can do to help

  • Brush twice daily
  • Floss once daily. This not only helps prevent gum disease but also heart disease. (17) (18)
  • Schedule regular check-ups with your dentist
  • Schedule regular cleanings with your dental hygienist
  • Be aware of our changes in smell and if someone else says the food smells/tastes off believe them. Look at expiry dates on your food and beverages.
  • Make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors in your house.
  • There are devices/procedures and creams you can use to remove those thick hairs from your nose, lip, and chin.
  • To combat the lack in taste and smell (which really diminishes after the age of 70) turn up the dial on seasonings. Ethnic cuisines like Indian and Thai foods tend to contain spices and herbs that will amplify the taste and aroma of food.

(11)(13)(14)(17)(18)(19)

10. EYES AND EARS

Well, the good news here is that lifestyle does play a significant role in helping us to maintain our senses as we age.

What Changes are Taking Place?

Eyes:  You will start to find at some point that what was once easy to read now has become more difficult and you have to extend your arm as far as possible to see the words.

This is when it first hit me at the age of 40… what???? Reading glasses!! Yup.

  • You may become more sensitive to glare and have difficulty adapting to different levels of light, especially if you are driving at night and it is raining out.
  • Your eye lens may become clouded affecting your vision, which is known as having cataracts.
  • Eyes may begin to get dry
  • After the age of 60, the risk of macular degeneration increases.

Ears: The hearing may also diminish, primarily as a result of degenerative changes in the ear canal, eardrum or other structures of the ear.

  • High frequencies can make it difficult to hear. Although after the age of 60 our ability to hear high-frequency tones starts to diminish.
  • A crowded room or a room with ambient noise might make hearing a conversation awkward.
  • I will actually choose a restaurant and where I sit at the table based on the noise around me. Otherwise, I am just nodding my head and smiling not having a clue what the person is saying to me… not a good idea… could get me into a lot of trouble ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s what you can do to help

  • Stay away from loud noises. Use earplugs if you must be around them
  • Eating a well-balanced diet can help ward off some age-related eye disorders
  • Schedule regular check-ups
  • Put your ego aside and if you need a corrective device, whether it is glasses or hearing aids, wear them!
  • Wear sunglasses when outdoors in the sun
  • There are medicated drops you can use for dry eyes
  • Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish like tuna and salmon or a fish oil supplement may help tear quality. Along with this, a diet rich in antioxidants can help prevent macular degeneration

(11)(13)(14)

11. YOUR SKIN

 The good news about the aging skin is that it becomes drier so less likely to have any acne problems! That is unless you are female and going through menopause then all bets are off! But during this time it can be treated with hormone-replacement therapy if needed.

The skin changes in part because as the body ages less collagen (a tough, fibrous tissue that makes skin strong) and elastin (which causes skin flexible) is produced. As a result, the skin will tear more easily.

What Changes are Taking Place?

Wrinkles, due to the skin becoming thinner with less fatty tissue below the surface.

graph comparing younger skin and older skin
  • This fatty layer not only acts as a cushion for the skin to help protect and support it but also helps to preserve body heat. Therefore less of it = wrinkles and less tolerance for cold.
  • Less elasticity, becoming more fragile
  • You may bruise more easily. And less blood flow means that our bodies will take longer to heal.
  • The outdoor elements can wreak havoc on your skin. Exposure to sunlight over the years has a large part in contributing to wrinkles and making the surface rough and blotchy.
  • The number of nerve endings in the skin decreases which can lead to lesser skin sensitivity to pain, pressure, temperatures and may increase the likelihood of injury.
  • The body is less able to cool itself down due to the decrease in the number of sweat glands blood vessels and blood flow in the deeper layers of the skin. This can increase the risk of heat-related disorders.

Age spots and pigmentation changes. The number of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes decreases. This means less protection from the suns ultraviolet rays.

  • Skin tags (small growths)
  • You may develop telangiectasia… the technical name for dilated superficial blood vessels on your cheeks, nose chin, and legs.

Here’s what you can do to help

  • Use mild soaps and moisturizers. Be gentle on the skin
  • Bathe or shower in warm water.
  • When outdoors:
    • Use sunscreen
    • Wear a hat
    • Use protective clothing
    • People who avoided overexposure to sunlight often look much younger than their chronological age
  • Check your skin regularly and if you see something that doesn’t seem right see your doctor have it checked out.
  • Don’t smoke. It can contribute to skin damage and wrinkling. Smoking will make you look much much older than you really are.
  • For age spots, you can talk to your doctor/dermatologist about prescription hydroquinone products that can help.
  • For subtle wrinkles that start in your 50’s and are becoming more prominent, there are prescription retinol creams that help repair damaged skin by speeding up skin cell turnover.
  • For those dilated blood vessels on your nose, cheeks, chin, and legs… if they are really bothersome and you just cannot live with them… doctors can zap them with laser therapy which will destroy the blood vessels underneath the skin, without any scarring.
  • Skin tags can be removed through freezing or cauterizing.

(4)(11)(13)(14)

12. YOUR BODY WEIGHT, COMPOSITION, AND METABOLISM

As we age our body weight and composition changes due to changes in metabolism, lean muscle tissue and our ability to continue with the physical activity. But we can make a difference and reverse these effects.

Women specifically have trouble with body image as they age. ‘Evidence has shown that as few as 12% of older women are satisfied with their body size.’ ‘Studies have also shown how anti-aging discourses are promoting unrealistic body norms’ for the older female population which leads to ‘poor body image and altered health behaviors’ (19)

What Changes are Taking Place?

Your metabolism slows down. The metabolism is how your body burns calories.

  • If your metabolism has slowed down and you are not exercising as much but eating the same, you will gain weight.
  • This is a time of life when women go through menopause or are post-menopausal. This creates changes in their body composition, and weight becomes more of a struggle to control.
  • In your 60s you may secrete less hydrochloric acid, which will decrease the availability of vitamin B12.

Here’s what you can do to help

  • The good news is that even though your metabolism typically slows down up to 5 percent per decade after the age of 20, it doesn’t mean that you have to gain weight in your older years.
  • Stay active. Include physical activity into your daily routine.
    • Regular moderate activity can help to maintain a healthy weight
  • Get your B12 levels checked and if deficient your doctor will give you a supplement.
  • Keep hydrated. Drink water throughout the day even if you are not thirsty. By the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated at the cellular level.
  • Eat healthily. A diet which includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein sources, high-fiber. Avoid or limit foods high in saturated fats and sugar.
    • Keep an eye on your portion sizes as this will help with controlling your calorie intake.

(11)(13)(19)

13. YOUR HAIR & NAILS

Your hair and nails help to protect your body and to keep body temperature steady. Each strand is made up of strengthening protein keratin and is surrounded by an out layer of overlapping sheets like roof shingles (cuticle).

What Changes are Taking Place?

HAIR: Both the hair on your head and on your body go through changes as we age. Some happen at an earlier age for people, genetics can play a part.

Color changes

The Head.

    • Hair becomes lighter, eventually turning to white.
    • Generally, the lighter your skin, the sooner your hair will turn gray.
    • Hair color happens because of a pigment called melanin, which is produced by hair follicles
    • As we age, less melanin is produced causing our hair to gray. Graying is primarily determined by your genes. So take a look at your parents, and you will have an idea of what you are in for ๐Ÿ™‚
    • Graying can happen as early as in our 30’s. And some people due to genetics may gray even earlier than that.
    • Often the changes start to occur at the temples and work their way up to the top of the head.

The body and facial hair

      • Will also turn gray but usually happens later than scalp hair
      • Armpit, chest and pubic hair may turn less gray or not at all.

Hair Thickness changes:  When hair falls out it is replaced with new hair. But the rate of hair growth slows down with age, and some hair follicles stop producing new hairs altogether.

graph comparing normal hair follicles and hair follicles in people who are experiencing baldness
  • Hair is made of many protein strands. The color of your hair and ethnicity will play a part on the thickness, for example, blonde hair has a smaller dimension then say black hair which has a thicker size. Asian hair tends to be thicker and harder to hold a curl whereas African hair tends to be kinky and break easily.
  • A single strand of hair has an average life between 2-7 years
  • As we age, hair strands become smaller and have less pigment.
  • For women, any remaining facial hair may get coarser
  • Men’s eyebrow, ear, and nose hair may grow longer and rougher.

Hair Loss: Male pattern baldness is related to the male hormone testosterone. Hair loss may start to occur on the top of the head or at the temples.

  • Women can also develop a similar type of baldness as they age. Female pattern baldness is when the hair becomes less dense, and the scalp may become visible.
  • Although we can lose hair where we don’t want to, we can also gain hair in areas we wish we didn’t!!
  • Your genes will determine how much hair you have on your head and body.
  • Nearly everyone has some hair loss with aging
  • Men can start showing signs of baldness by the time they are in their 30’s, and again genes play into this, so for some men that may happen sooner.
  • Those who do start losing hair younger are usually nearly bald by age 60.

Nails:

  • They will grow more slowly and become thicker and harder
  • May become dull and brittle, breaking easily at the tips
  • May become yellowed and opaque
  • You may experience more ingrown toenails
  • Ridges in your nails may develop and become more pronounced in both finger and toenails

 

Here’s what you can do to help

Hair:

  • Unfortunately, nutritional supplements, vitamins, and other products will not stop or decrease the rate of graying
  • If it is really bothersome, many women and men too will color their hair. If this is your choice then be prepared to have root touch-ups done every 4-6 weeks (depending on how fast your hair grows); otherwise, your gray roots will start showing up again.
  • There are anti-aging products out there that claim to counteract the effects of aging hair, but since hair is technically dead after it emerges from the follicle, these ‘fixes’ tend only to modify the appearance of each strand versus changing the actual structure. But can change the way your hair looks and feels.
  • Avoid excess use of heat from flat and curling irons. Keep the blow dryer 6 – 12 inches away from your hair while drying
  • As for balding, there is no current cure. There are many products out there that will promise hair growth. Hair transplants by grafting small segments or plugs is an expensive solution that requires many treatments but permanent results.
  • For women who are getting hair growth where they do not want it, which is usually where the male counterparts will grow hair (chin, upper lip, neck, back, or thighs) they can try tweezing, waxing or depilatories. If these are not working and it is something you cannot live with, see your doctor. You may want to try laser therapy and electrolysis.

Nails:  Make sure to take care of your nails. Keeping them on the shorter side and cuticles pushed back can help with nail health

  • See a podiatrist especially for your toenails so that they can be trimmed and prevent ingrown toenails which can become infected and extremely painful.
  • If your nails develop deep ridges, lines, pits, changes in shape or anything else out of the ordinary be sure to see your doctor. This can be related to a deficiency in your diet, low iron or even kidney disease.

(7)(21)(22)(23)

14. YOUR SEXUALITY

This is no longer a ‘taboo’ subject as it had been in decades past. Issues around sex and aging are being taken more seriously by the medical community and the general population. Although I am sure our kids still don’t want to hear about it ๐Ÿ™‚

elderly couple sleeping peacefully together in their bed

As people grow older, many want and feel the need to be close to their partners or another person. And for some this includes the desire to maintain an active sex life. 

It has been said that your life expectancy can increase by having more sex.

This may mean having to adapt your sexual activity to accommodate physical, health and other changes in your body as our sexual needs and performance might change due to the effects of illness or medication.

These changes can sometimes affect the ability to have and enjoy sex.

Some adults may choose not to engage in sexual activity, and that too is also normal.

One research study showed that levels of sexual activity declined with increasing age, but that a sizable minority of men and women remained sexually active into their 80s and 90s.

 

What Changes are Taking Place?

Women: Some of the changes that occur to the woman’s body can make intercourse painful and less desirable. Which is why it is essential to talk with your doctor/gynecologist about the issues you are experiencing as there are ways to help.

Many of these changes occur when you are peri-menopausal, menopausal, and post-menopause.

Menopause, when the levels of female hormones (particularly estrogen) decrease dramatically, menstrual periods end permanently (one full year without a period before considered in menopause) and pregnancy is no longer possible

Changes will occur to a woman vagina

    • Can shorten and narrow
    • Walls can become thinner and a little stiffer ( a condition called atrophic vaginitis). This can lead to itching, bleeding, and pain during intercourse.
    • It can take more time to lubricate itself.
  • After menopause vaginal dryness or lack of lubrication can make sex uncomfortable
  • Decreases in female hormone levels will cause the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus to shrink.
  • Breasts become less firm and more fibrous and will begin to sag a bit. This breast tissue change can make finding lumps more difficult.
  • Vaginal infections are more likely to occur.
graph comparing sex hormone production in men and women

Men: Changes in sex hormone levels are not as sudden as they are with women but rather decrease gradually

  • The male hormone testosterone decreases which will result in less sperm and a reduced sex drive
  • May experience erectile dysfunction (ED), which is the loss of ability to have and keep an erection.
  • Impotence (ED) might become a concern
    • It may take longer to have an erection
    • It may not be as firm or as large as it used to be
    • After orgasm, it may lose it firmness quickly
    • May take longer before another erection is possible
  • ED happening occasionally is not a concern, but if it begins to happen often speak to your doctor.

For both men and women: other physical or mental factors can cause sexual problems which can be addressed with your doctor or discussed with your partner.

  • Some are limiting factors physically, and some are such as:
    • Arthritis
    • Chronic pain
    • Dementia
    • Diabetes
    • Heart Disease
    • Incontinence
    • Stroke
    • Depression
    • Surgery, especially if it is with your breasts or genital area
    • Medications
    • Alcohol

Emotional:  When it comes to sexuality, there is often a delicate balance of both emotional and physical issue

And how you feel emotionally and about your physical self may affect what you are able to do or want to do sexually.

  • Some do not feel comfortable in their aging bodies. They do not like the changes that are occurring and find them difficult to accept.
  • You may worry that your partner no longer finds you attractive and this can cause stress.
  • You still have the same daily stresses that affect people of any age
  • You may have concerns about retirement, finances, illnesses, lifestyle changes, and these stresses can lead to sexual difficulties.

Here’s what you can do to help

Communicate with your partner:  Let them know your concerns

  • Talk about physical intimacy and what is right for you. This may be intimacy without intercourse or experimenting with different sexual activities.

Regular exercise can contribute to good sexual health

    • This improves the release of your sexual hormones
    • Improves cardiovascular system
    • Flexibility improves
    • Mood improves, with the feel-good hormones
    • And your personal self-image also enhances. When you feel good about yourself, it shows.

Talk with your doctor

      • They can provide options to help with specific issues you may be having
      • For women and estrogen cream for vaginal dryness can help immensely
      • For men an oral medication for erectile dysfunction

Protect yourself

    • Age does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases
    • Have regular check-ups with your doctor

Emotional well being

    • Once again talk with your partner without blaming either yourself or them.
    • Talk to a therapist either together or on your own. Try to find one that specializes in sexual problems
    • If you feel there is a change in your attitude towards sex, don’t assume that they are no longer interested in you or continuing an active sex life. Talk about it!

Women:

  • If vaginal dryness is an issue, you have some options.
    • There are vaginal creams you can have prescribed by your doctor/gynecologist,
    • use water-based lubricating jelly or lubricated condoms might be more comfortable.
  • If you are on hormone replacement therapy to treat your menopausal symptoms, you may find you want to have sex more often then before you started the therapy
  • although these changes occur for many women aging does not detract from the enjoyment of sexual activity.
  • Also not having to worry about becoming pregnant is a plus and that may also enhance sexual activity and enjoyment.

Men:

  • Although blood flow to the penis tends to decrease with age, most men can have erections and orgasms throughout their lives.
  • If you are having problems with ED speak to your doctor, it can often be managed and possibly reversed with medication or other types of treatments.

(3)(4)(6)(11)(13)(14)(23)(24)(25)(26)(27)

15. SLEEP AND AGING

Being older doesn’t’ mean you have to be tired all the time. You should wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the world!

Sleep can be an issue at any age but seems to be something many older people struggle with. The importance of sleep can never be underestimated, and its benefits are massive.

Older adults need 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night, the same requirements for all adults. Older individuals tend to go to sleep earlier and get up earlier than they did in their younger years.

elderly woman sleeping in her bed with an alarm clock in the foreground

What Changes are Taking Place?

  • Sickness or pain can affect your sleep
  • Some medications can keep you awake
  • Lack of sleep can cause:
    • Irritability
    • Memory problems
    • Feeling depressed
    • Unsteadiness on your feet leading to falls or accidents
  • Other medical factors can affect your sleep that you would need to speak to your doctor about, such as:
    • Insomnia
    • Sleep Apnea
    • Movement Disorders, i.e., restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement, and rapid eye movement
    • Alzheimer’s Disease

Here’s what you can do to help

  • Have a bedtime routine. Relax by reading a book, or listening to calming music, take a warm shower or bath.
  • Have a regular sleeping schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.
  • Avoid naps in the late afternoon or evening
  • Keep away from computers, cell phones, tablets at least two hours before going to bed.
  • Turn off or dim some of your lights an hour or two before going to bed
  • Make your bedroom temperature comfortable. Too much heat makes sleep more difficult, and your brain needs cooler temperatures to allow for sleep to occur.
  • Darken your room, you can use blackout curtains if you have street lights and keep the place quiet.
  • Avoid large meals close to bedtime as well as exercise as both will make for a restless or sleepless night
  • Stay away from caffeine
  • Alcohol does not promote sleep but instead disrupts it.

Some safety tips:

    • Keep a telephone with emergency phone numbers on your nightstand
    • Have an easy to reach and easy to turn on the lamp
    • Have a water bottle at your bedside
    • Keep the floor clear of items and area rugs that could cause you to trip in the dark
    • Never smoke in bed

(28)(29)

SUMMARY:

Well, one thing is for sure is that every part of our body ages, some more noticeable than others.

That the rate of aging is different for everyone and there are definitely things we can do to make our older years much more vibrant and enjoyable.

The one thread that seemed constant throughout my research on the topic of aging is that a well-balanced diet, daily physical activity and NOT smoking can slow down and in some cases reverse the hands of time

So to sum up some of those benefits of exercise here is a list of reasons to help to keep you motivated towards a healthier lifestyle and to bring back some of that youth from your past.

Of course before starting any exercise program consult with your doctor.

  1. Helps to keep your weight under control which will help prevent obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other ailments.
  2. Helps to relieve chronic pain whether from arthritis or pinched nerves
  3. Increases muscle tone and strength to make daily tasks much more manageable and helps with muscle atrophy
  4. Strengthen bones with resistance training which can actually help reverse bone loss
  5. Improves strength in postural muscles which help keep you upright
  6. Strengthen the muscles used in walking to keep your gait (the way you walk) strong and not end up shuffling
  7. Give you confidence in the way you move
  8. Balance exercises can help prevent falls and keep you more steady on your feet
  9. Increase endorphins are giving you that good feeling after your workout. Feeling more energized
  10. Sleep better
  11. Boots your immune system
  12. Helps to keep you mentally sharp and alert
  13. Can reduce blood pressure
  • Start slowly, and as your progress, you can increase your pace, weights, and frequency
  • Always warm-up before you exercise and cool down after you exercise
  • Drink water before, during and after exercise. A few sips at a time.
  • Seek out the help of a Personal Trainer to get you started on the right track
  • Find exercises that you enjoy so you will stick with it. You can try something new too. Swimming, golf, walking or yoga are a few ideas.
  • If you exercise with a friend, it not only gives you social time but motivates you to keep with a regular routine. Cheer each other on ๐Ÿ™‚

REFERENCES:  

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004012.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28191278
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004000.htm
  4. http://menopause.northwestern.edu/content/how-hormone-depletion-affects-you
  5. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/changes-at-midlife/changes-in-hormone-levels
  6. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353401
  7. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/calcium-intake-for-adults-over-age-55/
  8. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004006.htm
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22974317
  10. https://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/lipofuscin
  11. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/older-people-s-health-issues/the-aging-body/changes-in-the-body-with-aging
  12. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/digestive-disorders/biology-of-the-digestive-system/effects-of-aging-on-the-digestive-system
  13. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/aging/art-20046070
  14. https://www.aging.com/how-to-cope-with-the-aging-process/
  15. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408398.2016.1211086
  16. https://www.apa.org/pi/aging/memory-and-aging.pdf
  17. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthy-aging/memory-boosting-foods
  18. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(02)09442-4/fulltext
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24824149
  20. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08952841.2018.1449586?journalCode=wjwa20
  21. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/older-people%E2%80%99s-health-issues/the-aging-body/changes-in-the-body-with-aging?query=aging%20and%20the%20brain
  22. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004005.htm
  23. https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-aging-affects-your-hair-2223752
  24. https://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/home/women-s-health-issues/biology-of-the-female-reproductive-system/effects-of-aging-on-the-female-reproductive-system
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25624001
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28797370
  27. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/sexuality-later-life
  28. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/arthritis
  29. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/good-nights-sleep
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26842425
  31. Recommendations and benefits from WHO (World Health Organization) for ages 18 – 64 https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/physical-activity-recommendations-18-64years.pdf?ua=1
  32. Recommendations and benefits from WHO (World Health Organization) for ages 65 and above https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/physical-activity-recommendations-65years.pdf?ua=1

 

2 Shares

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclaimer for more info.

Go Personal Best Logo

Make This Year Your Personal Best!

Never miss another article from us plus get some tips on how to get/stay fit while on a busy schedule!

The registry of fitness professionals logo
Ace approved fitness logo
Graphic of the ACSM logo for certified group exercise instructors
IDEA Health & Fitness Association
>
Scroll to Top