What is normal aging?

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, July 26, 2022

I remember getting up one morning, looking in the mirror over the bathroom sink and seeing a reflection of myself wasn’t sure if that was really me. When did my hair turn silver?  Where did those wrinkles come from…maybe I didn’t sleep well, or perhaps I just haven’t noticed that I’m getting older? What else is changing?

No doubt you too have had a similar moment when you noticed some physical changes or mental changes.  Perhaps you’re starting to forget some things and are worried that you have dementia. You may wonder, is this normal or do I have a medical problem?

 

That’s not an easy question because we all age differently and at our own unique pace.  But here’s the point: our bodies do and will change with age, and while some things can be cosmetically altered or improved, no amount of money is going to change the fact that we’re all getting older.

 

Growing older increases some health issue risks, but aging isn’t necessarily the cause of those issues. For example, an article in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine noted that “…your risk of being diagnosed with cancer increases with age—until around your 70s. Then it actually starts to decline.” 

 

On the other hand, if you sustained a lot of injuries to your knees, shoulders or back when you were younger, you shouldn’t be surprised when, as you’ve gotten older, your body presents you with a “bill” in the way of aches and pains from all those injuries.

 

Here are some of the many normal changes that may occur as we age, albeit at different times in our lives, or for some, not at all:

 

  • Dry skin and age spots – some over-the-counter products can help.
  • Hearing loss – 33% of seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 experience some hearing loss, and almost half of those over age 75 do. Hearing aids are coming down in price, and they can reopen a world of sound and communication to you.
  • Dry mouth – good dental hygiene and regular check-ups are still necessary.
  • GERD or acid reflux – Stay hydrated, eat healthily, move around – exercise.
  • Sleep pattern – About 50% of elderly adults say that they have problems with sleep. Rest is a big part of your health. Talk to your doctor if you aren’t getting enough sleep or have more fragmented sleeping patterns, can’t stay asleep, or can’t fall back to sleep after waking.
  • Vision – Cataracts are normal, and the surgical procedure to replace a lens is painless, quick, easy, and covered by Medicare.

 

There are many more changes that can occur – from digestive, bladder, and kidney, to lung and heart problems. Many of these changes are normal and part of the aging process. Most are manageable issues with guidance from your physician.  

 

The reality is that only about 25% of our health and aging process is based on genetic influences, the remaining 75% of your quality of life and health depends on you.  The choices we make regarding our lifestyle become more important as we age. Pay attention to your body. If you notice any sudden change to your health or unexplained symptoms, sudden pain, or discomfort, don’t assume it’s a result of aging.  Err on the side of good common sense and caution and get checked out.  It may well be a normal part of aging and easily managed, but if it’s a serious problem, seeking medical attention early may save your life.

 

Ron Kauffman is a Consultant & Expert Speaker on Issues of Aging.You may contact him by phone at (828) 696-9799 or by email at: drron561@gmail.com