Lewis University As people approach old age, they experience many different types of changes. There are many physical as well as biological changes that occur as people age. Hormonal and reproductive changes also occur. These types of changes contribute to aging and life expectancy. Most of these changes happen to everybody eventually, however there are a few interventions that can be done to help delay some of the negative changes that are experienced with old age.
It is important for people to understand what types of changes to expect in order to delay the aging process successfully. First, it is necessary to understand what causes people to age in the first place. Over time, changes start to occur within cells that cause them to become less efficient. For example, DNA can eventually become faulty causing it to work improperly. Every strand of DNA has a telemeter at the end to help prevent it from deteriorating. Telemeter can eventually shorten, putting DNA and chromosomes at risk for damage. Hormonal changes also occur.
Hormones are chemicals produced by endocrine glands that help regulate certain functions of the body. A decrease in hormone activity can contribute to aging. Finally, a protein called beta myeloid is produced in greater quantities in older individuals. This protein causes aging because it interferes with neuron functioning. All of these things combined, as well as wear and tear effects causes deterioration and contributes to the aging process (V. Hill, personal communication, 1/27/2011). As people approach old age, there are many other biological changes that occur over time.
Sensory changes are extremely common in adults. Vision becomes less sharp early in adulthood. Presbyters, difficulty seeing objects that are close, usually starts to occur for adults in their arties. Contrast sensitivity also occurs with old age which impairs vision and might make it difficult for older adults to see objects that do not stand out very well. There are also a few problems that can occur to an individual’s eyes causing impaired vision. Cataracts involve the lens of the eye becoming opaque, making it more difficult to see clearly.
Age – related immaculately occurs when structures in the eye start to degenerate, resulting in impaired vision. Also, glaucoma involves pressure inside the eye which can lead to blindness if it does not get treated (V. Hill, personal immunization, 2/112011). Besides changes effecting vision, there are also changes that occur with age that effect hearing as well. There are a few structures located in the inner ear that are responsible for every body’s ability to hear. If there is degeneration of any of these structures, it will impair hearing.
Presbyteries, or trouble hearing high pitched sounds, is the most common hearing related problem associated with old age. Another issue that can occur when degeneration occurs is tinnitus. Tinnitus is the medical term for ringing, whistling, or crackling sounds heard n the ears. As individuals age, it becomes more difficult to hear speech sounds, especially if they are high pitched (V. Hill, personal communication, 2/112011). Changes in taste, smell, and touch also occur with old age. Older adults become less sensitive to all basic tastes.
In addition to this, the sense of smell also declines with age. Sensitivity to touch is impaired in older individuals, especially in the lower extremities. This puts older individuals at risk for falling (V. Hill, personal communication, 2/8/2011). Older individuals also become less aware of changes in imperative. They become less sensitive to pain, which puts them at greater risk for injury. Finally, older individuals are more likely to experience kinesthesia impairment (V. Hill, personal communication, 2/8/2011). Biological changes also occur over time in the brain.
With time, neurons, cells that make up the nervous system, start to age. This causes them to become less efficient. When neurons are not functioning efficiently, neurotically tangles and senile plaques can occur. A neurotically tangle occurs when the axon of a neuron gets twisted. Senile plaques occur when reruns die off and collect around healthy neurons (V. Hill, personal communication, 2/8/2011). In addition to neurons aging, certain areas of the brain can start to degenerate over time, resulting in aging. A major component of the brain that is affected by aging is the cerebellum.
This area of the brain is responsible for maintaining balance and posture. It is also where information regarding learned responses is stored. Cerebellum functioning begins to decrease with old age. The hippopotamus is responsible for the formation of new memories as well as providing a place to store memories. The hypothalamus is an area of the brain that regulates temperature, hunger, thirst, the fight of flight response, and the individual’s sex drive. These two areas of the brain can also degenerate with age, resulting in impaired functioning.
As a result, older individuals usually experience problems including a less efficient memory, adjusting to hot or cold temperatures, having an appropriate intake of calories per day, staying hydrated, and reacting to stressful situations. Also, if damage is done during one’s lifetime to the left or right hemisphere of the brain, it an also cause a variety of problems. Damage done to the left hemisphere of the brain can result in aphasia, or language impairment. Damage to the brain’s right hemisphere can result in signoras, or amnesia, for familiar environments (V.
Hill, personal communication, 2/8/2011). In addition to biological changes, there are also physical changes that occur with age. Changes in physical appearance are very obvious. As individuals age, their skin is more likely to become wrinkled. Hair starts to lose color and turn grey or white. It also gets thinner over time for men and women. Most structures stop growing during adolescence, however, the cartilage of the nose and ears never stops growing. Because of this, there is a change in the facial structure over time. An individual’s height and weight will also change with age.
As individuals get older, they become more at risk for developing osteoporosis. This causes bones to become very brittle. Some individuals can even get shorter due to osteoporosis. Muscle tone also decreases with old age. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage in a Joint breaks down and disintegrates over time. This causes pain and stiffness in the Joints. Older individuals will also experience an increase in weight due to a slower metabolism and decrease in exercise. Usually, muscle mass will decrease and body fat will increase.
However, weight usually decreases as the individual continues to age, especially if they are experiencing biological symptoms that can result in a decreased appetite (V. Hill, personal communication, 1/25/2011). There are also physical changes that occur with old age that effect circulation and respiration. Over time, heart muscle starts to become less efficient. Also, arteries become narrower and are at greater risk for hardening. Because of this, the risk for heart disease increases with age. Also, lung tissue loses elasticity which results in a decreased oxygen intake (V.
Hill, personal communication, 1/25/2011). Some other physical changes that occur with time include a decreased reaction time, lower endurance, and decreased muscle strength (V. Hill, personal communication Finally, hormonal and reproductive changes occur with age. For 1/27/2011). Females, there is an increased variation in menstrual cycles. This means that as women get older, they will start to have menstrual cycles less often. This is referred to as portmanteaus. Women produce fewer hormones and eventually stop having menstrual cycles at all.
Once a year has passed since a woman’s last menstrual cycle has ended, she has reached menopause. This usually occurs in the early ass. During this time, the ovaries stop functioning and no longer release eggs. They also produce less estrogen and progesterone. Also, as women get older, they become more likely to experience complications with pregnancies, and eventually lose the ability to bear a child. Most women do not experience any problems during menopause, however, mom will get hot flashes, experience vaginal dryness, night sweats, urinary problems, headaches, soreness, difficulty sleeping, or depression.
If an individual does experience these symptoms, there are treatments available. Hormone therapy works by increasing estrogen levels to help balance out hormones. Also, a healthy lifestyle can help prevent these symptoms from occurring (V. Hill, personal communication, 1127/2011). Males experience different hormonal changes with age. As they get older, they gradually produce less testosterone. Also, changes occur to the prostate gland that causes it to enlarge. This could cause urinary problems due to the proximity of the bladder to the prostate gland.
There is also a decrease in sperm production as males get older, but fertility continues throughout their lifespan. However, reproductive abilities may decrease due to erectile dysfunction. As men get older, a substance called cyclic IGMP that is released in the brain during sexual arousal decreases. This decrease causes erectile problems, however, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can decrease the risk of these problems. There are also a few medications that can help cure erectile dysfunction (V. Hill, personal communication, It is obvious that there are many negative changes that occur as people get older.
Luckily, there are actions that people can take in order to slow the aging process down a little bit. To make sure that an individual receives the opportunity to live a long and healthy life, it is important to see a doctor regularly to make sure that they are staying healthy. Another important thing to consider is the fact that close relationships have a positive effect on health. Avoiding risky behavior that could cause injury is important when trying to slow down the aging process. People who exercise regularly, even if it is for 30 minutes every other day, will notice a decline in the aging process.
Exercising helps maintain good health. It also helps maintain muscle tone and strength. Walking also helps improve and individual’s gag which can help prevent falls. Older people are at risk for falling and it is important that they take the actions needed to decrease their risk (V. Hill, personal communication, 1/27/2011). In addition, cognitive activities will help maintain brain functioning and will also help slow down memory degeneration. This includes thing eke solving riddles, doing logic problems, Kudos, crossword puzzles, and other similar activities.