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Aging is Inevitable – Adult Health and Wellness

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Aging is inevitable

While aging is inevitable, it’s not how we look, feel, and deal with it as we age. Aging affects each of us at different rates and in different ways. Even within the same individual, each organ and organ system ages differently, influenced by genetics, environment, lifestyle, attitudes, social networks, spiritual connections, and overall health and well-being.

In infancy and childhood, we can fairly accurately predict physical growth and development at different ages and stages. But with increasing age there is no uniform timetable. Chronological age is not aging is inevitable

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How do you know when you’re old?

Stereotypical signs of aging

• You get dizzy when you stand up or bend over

• Your joints and muscles hurt all the time

• Your skin is itchy, blotchy, wrinkled and dry

• Your body fluctuates between constipation and diarrhea

• You have poor muscle tone, tire easily and often feel weak

• You are often irritable, grumpy, depressed and generally unhappy

• You can’t remember what you did an hour ago

• They have stopped learning or trying new things

The above symptoms are generally thought of as the inevitable effects of aging, but these are actually signs of lifestyle deficiencies, injuries and illnesses.

Physiological changes and aging

Previous research on aging has focused on patients suffering from diseases and disabilities observed in doctor’s offices, clinics or hospitals. What we have previously believed about aging seems to reflect the effects of disease processes and unhealthy lifestyles. Studies are just beginning to focus on active seniors and the normal aging process.

• Aging is NOT a disease

Physiological changes that occur with age do not necessarily cause disability. Aging does not necessarily result in declines in heart function, bone density, muscle strength, cognitive ability and memory, sexual desire and activity, physical and social functioning, nor does aging guarantee increases in blood pressure, cholesterol, and the anemia. But aging reduces the body’s ability to withstand and respond to stress. As we age, we are less able to regulate heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption, blood sugar, serum sodium and blood pH levels under stress. Aging leads to greater difficulty in responding to injury and the likelihood that injury stress will lead to acute or chronic disease over time.

• One Percent Rule

From the age of 30, most organ systems lose around one percent of their function every year. The percentage loss does not increase with age.

• Body organs age differently

The physiological state of each organ in our body is affected by the rate of change that organ has experienced multiplied by the number of years the change has taken place. As we age, changes in one organ do not predict changes in other organs.

• Dementia is NOT part of normal aging

Memory loss with age is common but does not necessarily lead to dementia, which is a disease. Dementia-like symptoms include hearing loss, feeling confused or disoriented, difficulty performing simple tasks and making everyday decisions, and mood swings and loss of interest in life activities.

* Staying healthy is often a lifestyle choice

Scientists and wellness experts alike are discovering that we are more than our genetic makeup. We actually influence our own aging processes through diet, exercise, stress management, rest, sleep, social activity, positive mental thoughts, and spiritual connection. Staying healthy is often just a lifestyle decision and the choice is yours.

Thanks to Erica Goodstone, Ph.D.

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