Despite what culture leads us to think, there are actually a lot of enjoyable things about getting older. You’re wiser. You’re well established in your career. You’re vacationing in sunny retirement cities to see what living there would be like.
But the Golden Years do have one obvious downside: your body is showing the signs of years of wear and tear. The older you get the more you’ll see your primary care physician for new ailments you never experienced before. You’ll probably find that you’re suddenly searching through resources like USAMedicalSurgical.com for an array of devices and aids. It’s all a part of life and growing older.
As you inch closer to your 60th, 65th or 70th birthday and beyond, prepare yourself for a few physical changes that most people experience.
If you maintain 20/20 eyesight you are one of the lucky ones. There are a number of conditions that factor into reduced eyesight as we age. For most, the issue is the lens becomes less flexible, which makes it difficult to change focus. Near eyesight is most impacted, and you may find for the first time in life you need reading glasses.
There are also a number of eye diseases that become more common with age. These include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.
You may also notice that your reaction time is slower than it used to be. Slower reflexes are in part due to reduced eyesight but also because of changes in nerve fibers that happen over time. Cell reduction in the brain also plays a role.
Staying physically active can help you keep your motor skills humming along for longer. Keeping reflexes sharp is actually more important than many people realize. The potential for life-threatening falls increases with age, and slower reflexes is one of the causes.
Our joints get worked hard over the years. As a result, joints become weaker and less flexible. This can not only impede your range of motion, it can cause serious discomfort.
Arthritis (joint inflammation) is very common among people over the age of 60. More than 3 million people in the U.S. deal with arthritis on a daily basis, and the majority are 41 or older. Medications and physical therapy can help, but it probably won’t completely cure the condition.
Osteoporosis is a big concern for seniors, especially women. As we age, we lose bone mass from marrow loss and the bones become more brittle. Bones also shrink in size, which is why some people actually become a few inches shorter.
Even the digestive system changes with age. The flow of secretions in the stomach, liver, and intestines slows down, which slows down the entire digestive system. This is why older people are more prone to getting digestive issues that weren’t a problem when they were younger.
Increase in Incontinence
Incontinence is a word no one wants to hear, but it’s a fact of life for many people over the age of 60. Difficulty controlling your bladder happens for a number of age-related reasons. For women, it could be due to changes in hormones. For men, an enlarged prostate can lead to incontinence.
Less Efficient Kidneys
Did you know that the kidneys get smaller with age? The reduced size from cell loss makes kidneys less efficient at filtering waste. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes this puts additional strain on the kidneys.
When you’re younger and more physically active it’s easier to keep excess weight off. But reduced activity paired with a slower metabolism causes many older people to put on weight. Weight doesn’t dramatically shift, but you may notice it gradually changing over time even if your diet stays the same.
Few people past the age of 50 have the same amount of hair they had in their younger years. It’s most pronounced for men, but most women also experience some degree of hair thinning.
Less Muscle Mass
We also lose muscle mass over the years. Unless you do regular strength training, muscle loss can begin in early adulthood. By age 50 the decline becomes more rapid and you may find you aren’t as strong as you used to be.