Senior Lifestyles: Oh, my aching body!

Published 3:34 pm Monday, January 22, 2018

As we age, many of us seem to develop our share of aches and pains for no apparent reason. But in almost every case, there is a long-forgotten reason, particularly if you played sports as a kid.

Those broken bones, pulled muscles, sprained knees, injured backs and banged up shoulders may have been the result of something that happened 40 or 50 years ago and healed. But just because you recovered, doesn’t mean the end of the story.

It seems that there is a “cost” to every abuse we put our bodies through, but when we’re young our bodies don’t send us the total “bill” for those injuries, it simply puts the request for “final payment” in its own form of a “layaway plan.” Then one day you wake up and ouch! Welcome to the reality of aging.

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While it’s important to treat serious warning signals from our bodies, knowing why we have some of those aches can help us deal with them, especially since many are simply a result of the use we’ve put our joints and muscles through over our many decades of living.

Let’s talk about some of the most common problems our bodies are subjected to, beginning with joint pain, quite often in the knees and lower back. The culprit is usually arthritis, an inflammation of the joints.

Considering how old you are, your joints have had a lot of repetitive use. Your knees are involved in virtually every motion related to sitting, standing, walking, running and bending, and our lower backs endured all those years of standing, bending, twisting and turning so it’s no wonder the wear on our joints opens the door to some problems. Add to that any injuries or accidents that our bodies may have suffered and you begin to see just how hard we have taxed our joints.

As a result, most of us start receiving messages in the form of aches and pains signaling that we’re feeling the side effects of a common arthritic flare up. As mentioned in a previous article, over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like naproxen (Aleve) can help, but so, too, can physical exercise including movement and resistance training. Keeping the joints in motion and muscles that support the back strong can go a long way to minimizing the impact of common arthritis.

Dehydration is another problem we seniors face. Most of us don’t drink enough fluids to keep our bodies functioning at their peak. Side effects of not consuming enough fluid daily can cause a person to feel tired and sore, and dehydration can often be a cause of leg cramps. Almost any fluid can be consumed, but water remains the preferred choice because it has no calories or caffeine.

A lack of sleep may lead to exhaustion, which can cause aches and pains, and over time, not getting enough sleep can lead to exhaustion which often makes the body feel achy, sluggish, and heavy.  A good night’s sleep is essential as it is during those hours that the body does its repairs to tissues and cells, and allows the brain and body to recharge. A lack of sleep can also increase the frequency and level of intensity of aches and pains that we feel as compared to when our bodies are properly rested.

This may be a surprise, but in our lives, we couldn’t function properly without having some level of reaction to stress, like jumping back from a moving car if it comes too close while trying to cross the street. In today’s world, that’s a normal fight or flight body response to a scary situation. But overstressing our body and mind causes a longer lasting tension and release of chemicals that can weaken the immune system, make muscles feel stiff, particularly in the neck and upper back area, and can have a negative effect on our body’s ability to respond to inflammation and infection.

Not surprisingly, the best way to prevent some of these issues of aging from getting out of hand are the usual suggestions: eat properly and maintain a good body weight; exercise at least 20-30 minutes a day which can be a simple as a brisk walk around the neighborhood; don’t smoke and don’t abuse alcohol or other drugs. Do these simple things and take the occasional OTC anti-inflammatory pill when really needed, and see you doctor once a year for a total physical and there’s a good chance your aching body won’t be much of an issue at all.

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 to