The only constant in life is change, and the amount of happiness and satisfaction we feel with our lives depends on how we adapt to those changes. Some changes may be sudden and unexpected, such as the loss of a loved one, a life-changing injury, the end of a relationship, a financial setback, or a new diagnosis of a chronic illness. Other changes are slow and inevitable, which can both give us time to contemplate and adjust as necessary, and also give us ample time to agonize and dread over what’s coming. But with the right habits and mindset, our senior years can be fun, fulfilling and productive.
The aging process brings about gradual, but inevitable, physical, mental, and emotional changes. Many people are understandably afraid of decline, and choose to simply ignore the signs. However, it is far better to face the challenges head-on, acknowledging them with a clear mind and an open heart. By confronting the realities of the aging process without fear, we can prepare ourselves with a better understanding of what to expect. It also allows us to come up with solutions beforehand that will suit our personal needs and abilities. Some of the most common issues that aging people will need to deal with are listed below.
- Brittle Bones: Bone density decreases with age. This is true for both men and women, but women are particularly susceptible to developing osteoporosis. This is a dangerous condition for seniors, as decreased bone density causes bones to break easily, which can cause the injuries suffered from falls and other accidents to be both painful and debilitating. Older individuals also heal much slower after sustaining fractures. Falls are responsible for a high number of otherwise preventable injuries, hospitalizations, and even deaths among the elderly. Seniors need to be much more careful about their movements and care of their bone strength to avoid these possibilities.
- Weakened heart: The heart muscles grow weaker as the years stack on. The heart pumps blood at a slower rate, and so is unable to supply the amount of blood needed by the body when performing difficult or strenuous tasks. The loss of overall cardiovascular fitness causes a decline in exercise and sports performance. Regular people may experience things like fatigue setting in faster when doing things around the house. Seniors will find themselves needing to slow down and rest frequently instead of trying to do everything at once like they may have been able to do before.
- Brain decline: Memory decline is one of the telltale signs of aging. Short term memory suffers, with people forgetting where they placed certain items, such as keys, phones, money, or even their medications. Reflexes can slow as well, making it hard to react to changing conditions while driving, and possibly even showing signs of dementia.
- Slower metabolism: The body’s metabolism slows as we age. It can lead to weight gain, much of it in the form of fat. This phenomenon can be attributed to muscle loss, reduced activity, and hormonal changes. The average adult loses between 3 and 8 percent of their muscle mass after age 30.