With aging, your body undergoes changes both emotionally and physically and to cope with such changes is daunting. The vitality that youngsters have is lost as they start to age. Also, these days, if people have a longer life expectancy, the aging process starts to take a toll on them.
However, once you become aware of the changes that your body undergoes as you age, coping with them gets easier, when concerned with physical and mental changes.
Albeit, one of the best ways to remain healthy is to keep active. In the process, your body produces endorphins, which are the ‘feel-good’ hormones, and can help to counter mental conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Here, we study the various changes that seniors face and the ways to deal with them. First, we will look at the basic physical changes.
- 1 Physical
- 2 Emotional
- 3 Physical Activity
- 4 Preventive Steps
- 5 Maintain a Positive Outlook
In addition to your heart pumping blood at a slow rate, it also becomes a little enlarged while its wall starts to thicken.
As you age, your bones start reducing in size and weakening – particularly in post-menopausal women which leads to Osteoporosis.
With your bone mass reducing, you increase your tendency to accidents and falls; and, as a result, you get injured often. More so, your body’s ability to heal from injuries gets impaired in your old age.
The sluggish healing process is because of low immunity levels that accompany old age. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that falls lead to the highest number of injury-related deaths in elderly groups.
As you age, you will notice that your rate of digestion and metabolism starts slowing down. More so, your digestive tract can become firmer and is rendered unable to contract normally and does not process food in the different parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
Thus, you experience stomach aches, constipation, and nausea. The rate at which your body produces saliva and stomach acid slows down, too. Due to these physiological changes, you could also choke and suffer from food-borne illnesses because your body is not able to get rid of the harmful bacterial elements.
Brain and Nervous System
With age advances, you may notice changes in your senses and reflexes. Plus, you could ail from memory loss. And, sometimes, your nerve cells and brain suffer from damage due to the formation of tangles and plaques. Consequently, you run the risk of contracting dementia.
Through the years, your tendency to get cavities increases as well. Because the enamel that extends protection from decay starts wearing out. Thus, you run a greater risk of gum-related disorders.
The natural deterioration of your gums causes your teeth to become long and unstable. Most of the time, you suffer from dry mouth, which is one of the side effects of most medicines for elderly persons.
During old age, your body does not react as strongly to stimuli as when you were young. As such, your body expends more energy and takes longer to get stimulated. As a consequence, you have a reduced sense of vision, touch, taste, and smell. These changes result in reduced appetite, having an adverse impact on your health.
Post-menopause, women undergo physical changes – including less lubrication and vaginal dryness. Men, on the other hand, suffer from erectile dysfunction.
With old age, you also get wrinkles on your skin while it loses its elasticity. This applies more to seniors who smoke.
High-stress levels because of grief are among some emotional problems that seniors suffer from. As we age, we start losing more people around us which is painful.
Moreover, seniors come under pressure due to loss of purpose which is related to children going away from home and retirement, and the physical changes that the body goes through. To cope with physical changes, here are some considerations.
Eat a Nutritious Diet
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that malnutrition is a common challenge for people who are 65 years and above. Even so, the symptoms of malnutrition are under-diagnosed because of its symptoms (such as weight loss, muscle weakness, and light-headedness) are similar to other disorders. Hence, a proper diet is essential to remain healthy.
- Eat a diet that is rich in whole grains, vegetables, high-fiber nuts, and lean proteins.
- Consume your supplements that your healthcare provider prescribes – including of calcium mineral and vitamin-D.
- Keep your body hydrated by sipping enough water throughout the day
- Devour meals with friends or neighbors or family members. Doing so can be fun and, then, you do not skip your meals too.
Staying active has a host of benefits, as seen below.
- Helps in relieving pain that erupts due to various health conditions
- Boosts your energy levels
- Aids to sleep soundly
- Heightens immunity
- Improves posture
- Lowers blood pressure
- Manages weight and keeps it under control
- With muscle training and resistance, your back and shoulders become strong due to bone loss reversal
- Keeps you mentally agile
Other useful tips to may come handy
- Talk to your doctor about any exercise program that you’re planning to join
- Start slow and increase your pace and time gradually. More so, indulge in low-impact exercises like walking and gardening. And, over time, increase your exertion time. More importantly, always consult your physician to determine whether your physical condition allows you to follow an exercise regime. Work with your doctor to know about the exercises that are suitable for you to indulge in.
- Join an exercise class with a friend, so both of you can motivate each other
Some Brain Exercises
- Learn something new – such as a language, an instrument, or a game
- Try different ways of cooking your favorite dish or take different routes to go to the supermarket
- Play crossword puzzles or word games while progressing to the harder ones over time
Visit your physician for screening and testing as is mandatory.
- Monitor your blood pressure
- Get tested for colorectal cancer
- Take pelvic exam
- Undergo eye test
- Go for Diabetes screening
- Take a hearing test
- Men should get screened for prostate cancer
- Opt for a Mammogram
- Dental examination
Also, get vaccinated for pneumonia, flu, and tetanus.
Home Protective Measures
Some protective measures elderly people can take at home for their benefit are studied below.
- Carry out an inspection and remove frayed carpets or loose wires that are in the way and can cause accidents
- Make sure to update your electrical and gas appliances
- Set up your lighting systems
- Remove household fittings that can cause falls and accidents
Maintain a Positive Outlook
We have listed some ways of dealing with painful emotional turmoils that accompany old age.
- Consider joining a support group where you can interact with others who are experiencing similar pain and issues as yours
- Increase your physical interactions so you feel less lonely
- Go to a park, or attend a concert, or visit a museum
- Travel to places that have been on your Wishlist, even a national park nearby your home helps to uplift your spirits
- Accept the changes that have occurred and do not resist them; by letting go, you feel lighter and happier
- Become a volunteer, for by helping others you start feeling good to have made a positive difference to others’ lives
- Engage in meditation for enjoying some solace and pacifying the mind from negative thoughts
- Pen down your memoir; in turn, others can learn from your struggles, lessons of life, and victories