Then the body ages

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Last Medical Review: March 31, 2020
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Elisabeth Vincent Hamelin

The body’s organs can function well in old age, although the risk of illness increases the older we get. Moving, eating good food and socializing with others regularly can have a positive impact on your health.

Improved medical and surgical treatment methods have helped to postpone and alleviate many diseases that are coming of age. Since the middle of the 20th century, the average age has risen by about 10 years. Today, the average life expectancy for women is 84 years and for men almost 81 years.

You can affect your health

How we age varies greatly from person to person. You can affect your health in many ways at old age, although some things may depend on the environment and habits of the past

It’s good to exercise

It’s never too late to start exercising or exercising. Physical activity and muscle training can give good results high up over the years. The training does not have to be very intense or last for longer periods. Walking 30 minutes a few times a week also brings results.

Exercise also reduces the risk of being overweight and many diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Being outdoors for a while every day in daylight and sunlight is good for the body. The sunlight increases the vitamin D content in the body, which can increase your well-being. Along with physical activity, it can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Make sure to eat good food

The energy requirement decreases as you get older. This is because metabolism drops but is also affected by how much you move. It can be difficult to eat as much as before without gaining weight.

Your body needs foods that contain different nutrients. If the body gets too little of any nutrient, it can for example lead to increased sensitivity to infections and reduced muscle strength. It’s especially important to remember that all the nutrients your body needs are in the foods you eat.

Reduced appetite, dental problems or illness can make it difficult to get enough energy. Therefore, you should avoid light products and preferably add snacks between meals. It is also important to drink enough fluid, preferably unsweetened.

Eating fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains is good. Therefore, try to eat fruits and vegetables every day. You should also eat dairy products such as milk, cheese or yogurt every day.

Social contact is important

It is of great value to get involved in any activity where you meet other people. If you also have the benefit of having rewarding relationships with family members and friends, it is of course also positive.

Living in solitude, without regular contact with others, increases the risk of feeling mentally ill and suffering from depression.

What happens in my body as I age?

Already in middle age, that is when you are 40-60 years, changes in the body begin to notice, although aging can go different quickly in different organs.

The risk of diseases that cause disabilities increases over the years, but often the body’s organs can still function well even at a high age.

The internal organs are affected

Most functions in the body have the same functional level up to the age of 70. Then they start to change.

  • With increasing age, blood vessels become stiffer and blood pressure often becomes higher. Therefore, it is important to regularly check blood pressure.
  • The heart becomes less extensible and the heart’s ability to pump around the blood in the body decreases. It becomes noticeable when you are strained.
  • The lungs’ ability to absorb oxygen from the air decreases. Smokers are at high risk of developing the disease carbon, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Quitting smoking can prevent the disease from developing. Even if you have smoked for a long time, you can feel much better if you stop smoking.
  • The kidneys are more difficult to cleanse the body from slag products. At the age of 80, the function of the kidneys is reduced to about half of the original capacity. Drugs that are excreted through the kidneys therefore remain longer in the body. Therefore, the dose usually changes.
  • The capacity of the bladder decreases and you may need to walk and pee more often. You can also start leaking urine or pee on you. There is help to get if you have urinary incontinence.
  • The mucous membrane of the stomach no longer provides as good protection against the acidic content of the stomach. Therefore, you who use drugs that affect the gastric mucosa have an increased risk of irritation and ulcers.
  • It is common to become constipated. This may be due to the fact that you move less, drink less and do not eat enough dietary fiber. Some medicines can also make you constipated.

Skeletons, joints and muscles become weaker

The joints and muscles become stiffer and the muscle mass decreases. At the same time as the muscle mass decreases, the fat mass increases. This means that the percentage of fat increases as the age increases. It may be important when treating with certain drugs that can be stored in the fatty tissue.

Osteoarthritis is very common in the elderly. Various joints can be affected, such as finger joints, knee joints and hip joints.

Osteoporosis is more common in women than in men. One symptom of osteoporosis is that you become shorter. This is because the height of the vertebrae in the spine has become lower. Osteoporosis also makes it easier for you to break bones if you fall.

The hair and skin become thinner

With age, the skin becomes thinner, less extensible and drier. You can start getting wrinkles. This means that the skin becomes more sensitive and acts worse as a protective barrier. It takes longer for wounds to heal. Blood circulation in the skin also decreases and the skin becomes more sensitive to cold and heat. Therefore, it is important to look after the skin. Here are tips on how to take care of your skin:

  • Use moisturizing creams.
  • Be careful with foot care.
  • Wear good shoes so that the risk of getting sores is reduced.
  • Protect yourself if you are in the sun.

Hair gets thinner. The hair’s ability to form pigments decreases and the hair turns gray.

Your feet are affected

Your feet may have lower blood circulation and become sensitive to cold if you do not move as much as when you were younger. The joints and muscles of the feet become weaker and the skin of the feet becomes thinner.

There are several things you can do to keep your feet in shape:

  • You can exercise. Walking helps keep blood circulation going.
  • Wear shoes with good fit and good shock absorption.
  • You can use posts in your shoes
  • Use thick socks to keep your feet warm. You may also need socks when you sleep.

It is also common to get foot fungus, nail fungus or cracks on your feet as you get older.

The senses deteriorate

The lens in the eye fades and the vision deteriorates. Occasionally, cataract surgery may be relevant. You who are older need significantly more light than younger to be able to look good. Therefore, it is important to arrange a good lighting in the home.

It becomes more difficult to perceive high tones and to distinguish speech in noisy environment.

Balance capacity deteriorates, which in turn contributes to an increased risk of falls. It may be important to think about your home environment. There is much you can do to reduce the risk of accidents.

You find it harder to remember things

Many people experience that memory deteriorates over the years. It may take longer to learn new things, or to remember things that have happened.

Vocabulary and general education are memory functions that can work well even in old age.

With increasing age, the risk of getting dementia increases. However, all forgetfulness is not due to illness. It is perfectly normal to forget where you put your glasses, but not normal to not remember if you need glasses or not to find the way in famous neighborhoods.

Hormones affect metabolism

Substance turnover decreases. The cells become less sensitive to insulin, which increases the risk of getting diabetes. There is an increased risk of diabetes if you are overweight.

You can start sleeping extra

Sleep gets worse and you can start sleeping more. For example, you can wake up several times during the night.

Sex life is affected

The mucous membranes inside the vagina can become thinner and brittle as you get older. The elasticity of the sliding walls can decrease. It may take longer to get wet from the vagina.

Continuing with masturbation or sex with someone else also makes the mucous membranes less dry and the elasticity does not decrease.

You can use a silicone-based lubricant if you have penetrating sex. It is more gentle on dry and sensitive mucous membranes than water-based. It gives slip for a longer time and does not dry out.

Creams or abrasive tablets with locally-acting estrogen are available at the pharmacy without prescription. A doctor or gynecologist can prescribe prescription tablets and a vaginal ring with local estrogen. At a gynecologist you can also discuss any problems and how they can be treated.

With higher age, the risk of illnesses and treatments with drugs that can affect erection ability increase. There are effective drugs that primarily improve the erection but do not cure the very basis of the trouble.

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