Know your own body – what is normal?

Published 10:00 pm Monday, October 24, 2016

It may seem like an odd thing to say, but some people don’t know their own bodies very well. Of course, as we look in the mirror, it’s not difficult for most of us to recognize that we’re no longer that svelte, hard-bodied 25-year old – if we ever were. 

But how you look and how you feel, recognizing signs, symptoms and signals from our own bodies is a very good way to remain proactive about our health and keep all the parts functioning as well as they can to allow us to fully enjoy life.

The basics about which I frequently write remain the same: A) Make good lifestyle choices about what and how much you eat and drink; B) Don’t smoke and stay active doing things that don’t overly stress or punish your body; C) Know what is normal and abnormal with pain, bruises, bumps, coloration or bleeding as it regards your body; D) Visit you doctor at least once a year and more frequently if you’re dealing with a chronic or acute issue regarding your health.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Of course, the truth is that things change as we age. One “problem” that most of us can count on is developing at least a touch of arthritis, typically in the joints of the body that either saw the most use during our earlier working lives – hands, back, knees – or due to sport or work-related injuries to shoulder and knee joints.

The fact is that almost half of all people over the age of 60 and practically 100 percent of those over the age of 80 have some form of osteoarthritis; it’s a natural process that occurs when cartilage between the joints starts to wear out with age, usually affecting your hips, hands, knees, spine and feet. Injury, excessive weight or bad genes all contribute to arthritis, and smoking accelerates this “breakdown.”

Some people with issues of declining health seem to fall into the trap of saying that an aching back, sore knee or increasing forgetfulness is “normal,” and that “everyone” deals with these problems. Not only is that not true, not addressing some of these problems early can have incredible longer term implications on your health and well-being.

Refusing to seek medical attention can take a problem that might have been treated with gentle exercises and can end up requiring strong medicines, or in advanced situations surgery or joint replacement.

Keys to monitoring your health include paying attention to your strength, endurance and energy level.  Keep in mind that heart-related diseases are the leading cause of death for adults over 65-years of age, and in that age group over 33 percent of men and 25 percent of women are diagnosed with some form of heart disease.

If you used to be able to easily go up and down stairs but suddenly find that doing so results in a rapid heartrate, an inability to catch your breath or muscle fatigue, those can be indicators from your body that something is wrong; those are not typical of normal aging.

Whether it’s just a feeling that something isn’t right, or the knowledge that you are dealing with issues that can and often do affect your quality of life, the key to making the most and best of whatever conditions you have is that if it doesn’t seem right, get checked out.

Then follow the professional advice you receive, and you’ll be more likely able to maintain the best quality of life available to you under the circumstances. Remember, it’s always good common sense to listen to you own body.

Ron Kauffman is a consultant and expert speaker on issues of aging, Medicare and Obamacare. Ron is the author of “Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease,” available as a Kindle book on He may be contacted at 828-696-9799 or by email at