There are quite a lot of unpleasant things that in fact are just a normal part of an aging process. But how exactly aging affects the body, and what can we do about it? Probably, knowing what to expect may help promote good enough health as you get older.
How aging affects us: the body
Aging is not just about wrinkles and gray hair. Fortunately, there are things you can do, some of them right now!
Heart, arteries, and blood vessels
The problem. Many old people suffer from high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.
The decision. First of all, your heart needs regular moderate physical activity. In addition, your cardiovascular system requires a healthy, low-fat diet, more sleep, and less stress. And quit smoking please!
Bones, joints, and muscles
The problem. With age, bones and muscles are weakening.
The decision. Eat foods naturally high in calcium, and get enough vitamin D. If needed, take both in supplements. Exercise is good for your bones, joints, and muscles, too. What’s bad? Smoking again, but also drinking too much alcohol.
The problem. Most older adults suffer from constipation.
The decision. To prevent it, stick to high-fiber foods, and drink more water. At the same time limit sugar, dairy products, and fat meat. Physical activity helps your digestion, too.
The problem. First of all, loss of bladder control is common in older people.
The decision. Being overweight, smoking, and consuming certain bladder irritants (like alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, and acidic foods) may make things worse. Urinary incontinence can be eased by going to the toilet regularly, and by doing Kegel exercises (here are some tips for men and for women).
The problem. Among most common problems are presbyopia (difficulty focusing on objects that are close up), light sensitivity, and cataracts (clouded vision).
The decision. First of all, schedule regular checkups. Change your glasses or contact lenses as often as needed, and always wear sunglasses outdoors.
The problem. Your hearing also might diminish. You might have difficulty hearing high frequencies or following a conversation in a crowded room.
The decision. Visit your doctor regularly. If needed, use hearing aids. To protect your ears, also consider wearing earplugs to avoid too loud noises.
The problem. Even those who visit their dentists regularly, and therefore still have more or less healthy teeth, may have serious problems with gums as they get older. Another common elderly problem is dry mouth.
The decision. To promote oral health, see your dentist or dental hygienist regularly, brush your teeth twice a day, and floss once a day.
How aging affects us: the mind
The problem. Sad but true: memory worsens with age.
The decision. To keep your memory sharp, train it as you train the body. Do crossword puzzles, learn something new, and stay social. It may sound peculiar, but eating healthy, staying away from alcohol and tobacco, and exercising also helps. Even more weird: in many cases lowering blood pressure might reduce the risk for dementia!
The problem. Most women find sex less exciting because of the vaginal dryness. Many men suffer from impotence and other erection problems. And both, unfortunately, may lose interest in sex.
The decision. First of all, visit your doctor and ask for advice. Additionally, stay in touch with your partner. Sometimes just talking about your concerns helps a lot.
Remember, although you cannot stop aging, you can minimize its unpleasant impacts!