what does aging mean to our bodies?

 (Description, physical effects and psychological aspects of aging)

                    The topic itself intrigues me so much. As far my emotions and personal thoughts are concerned its very difficult for me to accept the reality of how fast time is passing. only the mirror or the aching joints tell me that I am growing older and older. It is not that I was born yesterday but maybe I was born a year ago but then I feel life is like a dream. As far as the calendar tells me I have recently turned 51. Wow, some years back I thought people of 50 are quite old …. not anymore.

Am I turning old?

  I did not change internally for time unknown. Ok, I may or may not accept the process of aging but the nature is not going to treat me differently because I am no special. Since I always wanted to be normal. Then normal means I should accept aging too. What if I don’t accept? Well, it will not make any difference to nature only that I will start suffering at some point in old age. So, I welcome my aging with big smile that does not have any wrinkles still. (Please, GOD, don’t you love beauty let me stay as I am.) ok now I did some research regarding aging process. what does it mean for us?

Physical changes in the process of aging       

            Physical changes that occur in the human body leading to elderliness, the decline of biological functions and of the ability to change to metabolic stress. In humans the physiological advances are normally accompanied by psychological and behavioral changes, other changes involving social and economic factors, also occur.

When do we begin to age?

 Aging begins as soon as adulthood is reached and it’s as much a part of human life as are infancy, childhood and youth in other words it’s about the changes that occur between the achievement of maturity and the death of the person.

Aging and the health status:

The biological factors underlie aging and the general health position. The probability of death increases fast with the advance age, these developments make a person more and more susceptible to diseases. For instance, a young adult may quickly recover from pneumonia, whereas an elderly person may die.

Effect of aging on our body shape

We can not avoid changes in body shape due to aging because its natural process but we can slow it down by lifestyle selections. The amount of body fat increases steadily after age 30. Fat tissues builds up towards the center of the body, including around the internal organs. However, the layer of fat under the skin gets thinner.  

Reduction in height due to aging

The inclination to become shorter happens among all races and in both genders. Height loss is related to changes in bones, muscles and joints. Characteristically, people lose almost one – half inch every ten year after age 40. Height loss is even more rapid after age 70. You may lose total of 1-3 inches in height as you grow old. Although this can be prohibited by careful diet, staying physically active and by stopping bone loss.

Changes in body weight vary for men and women. Men often gain weight until about age 55 and then begin to lose weight until later in life. Women usually gain weight until age 65 and then begin to lose weight. Diet and exercise can play a large role in a person’s weight changes over their life time.

‘’Your lifestyle choices affect the speed of aging’’   

Facial changes regarding aging

The face and neck typically seem affected with aging. Loss of muscle tone and thinning of skin gives the face a slack or loose appearance. The face is no longer plump, even in surface. Then come missing teeth and withdrawing gums also change the appearance of the mouth. The lips may look contracted. Loss of bone mass in the jaw reduces the size of the lower face and makes your forehead, nose and mouth more noticeable. The nose may grow longer slightly, ears may lengthen in some individuals. Fat from the eyelids accumulate into the eye sockets. This makes your eyes look recessed. The lower eye lids may loosen and bags can develop under your eyes. The iris loses pigment and the cornea may develop grayish white circles.

image by pixabay

The performance of body organs

Many organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain, lungs show steady decline over the life- span , Partly due to loss of cells from these organs. The result is a severe reduction in the reserve capacity of the person. Furthermore, the cells remaining in the aging individual may not be performing as well as those in the young. Certain cellular enzymes may be less working, and thus more time may be essential to carry out chemical reaction.

Effects of aging on cardiovascular system      

  After age 65, the diseases of the heart are the sole biggest cause of death as the heart becomes more exposed to cardiovascular disease.  Even without any disease the heart undergoes harmful changes with the advancing age. There is regular loss of muscle fibers with penetration of adipose tissue and connective tissue there is a gradual accumulation of insoluble granular material in cardiac muscle fibers. These granules, composed of proteins and lipids, make their first appearance by the age of 20. Then increase gradually so by the age of 80 they may occupy as much as 5-10 percent of the volume of a muscle fiber.

The performance of heart function  

There is steady decrease in the performance in the function of heart. The amount of blood pumped by the heart lessens between age 20 and 90 years. But there are marked individual differences in cardiac function. Some 80 years old have cardiac function as good as that of 40-year-old. In spite of changes due to aging, the heart, in the absence of disease is able to meet the demands placed upon. Although the maximum productivity falls during exercise the heart increases the rate to double or triple the blood pumped each minute. The reserve capacity of the heart reduces with age. The stiffening of the arteries is associated with aging. By the middle age all the individuals get this to some extent practically.

Changes in blood vessels due to aging

With advancing age, the blood vessels become less flexible. There is progressive deepening of the walls of larger blood vessels with increase in connective tissue. There may even be a small decrease in blood pressure in extreme old age. The frequency of obesity increases with age, up to age 55 – 60. This factor may contribute in part to the increase in blood pressure with age

What happens to our Digestive System?

Let’s talk about teeth first. loss of teeth is often seen in elderly. Well, it has less to do with aging than it is result of negligence. Though loss of teeth increases and oral diseases also increase with advancing age. But owing to water fluoridation there is less chances of tooth decay in children, the succeeding generations of the elderly will certainly have better teeth than the present generation. With age, the digestive enzymes decrease but the over all process of digestion is not meaningfully weakened in the elderly.  Sugar, proteins, vitamins are absorbed from the stomach and the intestine as well as in the old as the in the young. Some researches specify a little loss in fat absorption but the reduction is probably of little practical importance

The nervous system and aging

Due to normal aging, changes in the structures of the brain are not conspicuous. There is only a small loss of neurons in the brain. As the total number of neurons is very large, so that any losses probably have a minor effect on behavior. The physiological basis of memory is still unknown, it can’t be assumed that the loss of memory in the elderly is caused by the loss of neurons in the brain. The reduced cognitive ability in the elderly can be due to lack of work out smoking or exposure to certain chemicals. The nervous system can compensate and maintain enough function even in old people.

Eye health and aging

The ability to define fine details is comparatively poor in young children. But improves up to young adults. Between 20 to 50 year of age there is small reduction in visual perception. After 50 there is speeding decline. With age there is reduction in the size of the pupil. Aging also brings about a reduction in the ability to change the focus of the eye for viewing near and far things. The far objects are more clearly seen. Sensitivity to light is greater in the old than in the young. The chances of eye disease, such as cataract and glaucoma increase with age.

Aging and hair changes

Nearly everyone has some hair loss with advancing age. Hair strands become smaller and have less color. So, the thick hair of a young adult ultimately becomes thin, fine, light – colored hair. Many hair follicles stop producing new hair. Hair and nails keep the temperature of our body stable. Our hair color is due to a pigment called melanin, which hair follicles produce. Hair follicles are the forms that make and grow hair. With aging hair follicles make less melanin and this causes gray hair. graying often begins in 30s. Eventually turning white.

Graying is largely decided by your genes. Gray hair tends to happen earlier in white people and later in Asians. How much hair you have on your body and head is also determined by your genes. Almost everyone has some hair loss with aging. The speed of hair growth also slows down. Many males are nearly bald by age 60. Women can develop similar type of baldness as they grow old. hair become less dense and scalp may become apparent. Men may grow longer and thicker hair on   eyebrow.  

Nail changes with age

With aging nail grow more slowly and become dull and fragile. They may become yellow or dense. Especially toe nails may become hard and thick. The tips of finger nails may break easily.  Longitudinal ridges may develop in the finger nails and toe nails

Hearing capacity and aging

We come across tons of sound frequencies in a single day. Hearing does not change much after age 50. There is regular reduction in the ability to distinguish tones at higher frequencies. Above age 65 less people can hear tones with a frequency of 10000 cycles per second. It does not represent a serious restriction to the individual’s hearing ability in daily life

Other sensory impairments  

After age 70, sense organs may show a reduction in sensitivity. There is loss of taste buds and atrophy from the tongue in the old. Reflexes become slightly slower after 70. The speed in the conduction of nerves is also slowed down. The slowed response comes from brain not from the organ.   

Skin Changes due to aging process

Skin changes are the most prominent because of aging. With increasing age, we get wrinkles and loose skin. Blue eyed, fair skinned people show faster aging skin changes than people with darker, pigmented skin. With aging the outer layer of skin epidermis thins, even though the number of cell layers stay the same. The aging skin looks thinner, pale and translucent. Pigmented spots or age spots may appear on sun- exposed areas. Farmers, sailors and others who spend a lot of time outdoors get leathery and weather-beaten appearance.

Our sebaceous glands produce less oil as we age. This can make it harder to keep the skin moist, resulting in dryness and itchiness. Subcutaneous fat layer thins and this increases risk of skin injury and reduces the ability to maintain body temperature. When you have less natural insulation, you can get hypothermia in cold weather. The sweat glands produce less sweat. Skin tags, warts, and brown rough patches are more common among elderly people. Pink rough spots are also common in elderly, which have small chance of becoming a skin cancer. Aging skin repairs itself more slowly than younger skin. Wound healing may be up to 4 times slower.  

Endocrine system

Endocrine system traditionally has been cited as very important in aging. Basal metabolism decreases with age. one characteristic of aging is reduction in the rate of removal of excess blood sugar. If the additional stimulation produces more insulin, the sensitivity of pancreas is reduced in elderly so that a higher level of blood sugar is required to stimulate it to action.  

How a person’s sexuality is affected by aging

Studies show that sexual activities lessen slowly between the ages of 20 and 60. Both males and females show decrease between the ages of 45 and 60. But only 5 percent of males reported loss of sexual activity. Clinical reports specify that at least some males remain sexually active at 90. There are wide individual differences in the level of sexual activity. In humans’ sexual behavior is more influenced by psychological and social factors than by physical factors as the level of sex hormones circulating in the blood decreases with age.  At menopause the excretion of estrogens:  female sex hormones fall noticeably. In the males, the excretion of androgens: falls gradually over the age span 50-90.

Conclusion  

Now it is ok for me to grow old until I don’t fall ill. I want to keep walking, even running around. I want to keep working until the last day of my life. I have a dream to paint all of my grandchildren playing under a tree. Though my grandchildren are waiting for me still far in the future. But until then I will get better both in painting and sewing lovely dresses for the little cuddly bubbas. I have many interesting stories for my grandkids, need to transfer the legacy. Well, I am not sure maybe I would be too old fashioned for those new age little people. That’s fine. My grannies were also old fashioned for me. Now I need to determine the meaning of old fashioned. 

7 Comments

  1. I hear u says:

    Beautiful. I agreed

    Like

  2. Carol says:

    Informative and true. In summary, getting old sucks but the alternative sucks even more. I’m grateful!

    Like

    1. Ruqia Ismat says:

      Thanks. Yes, gratitude is a blessing.

      Like

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