Everyone gets older, but what can we expect our bodies to do as we age? As we get older our bodies get older too and begin to deteriorate. This may sound bad or alarming but is completely normal and happens to everyone. It is our body’s way of adapting to the new changes that are happening to us as we age. Our hair may begin to get gray, we may need glasses now, or we may begin to lose a little height. However, there is nothing to be worried about.
Because our bodies begin to change so much to accommodate our new life stage, we need to consider that some of these changes can be signs of our health changing as well. However, there is nothing to worry about as there are simple and easy ways of managing our health as we get older. We may need to change our lifestyle or simply watch out for some warning signs, but all can be managed. Here are some normal signs of aging and how you can help yourself manage them.
The first thing you may notice as you age is changes to your skin. This may begin happening as young as your 40’s depending on your lifestyle. As we get older, we experience a loss of fluids in our bodies. These fluids often help keep our skin soft, tight, and healthy. This loss of fluids can then lead our skin to wrinkle, feel drier, thinner, and spots or other abnormalities may begin to appear. This is all normal and can be easily managed as we age.
How you can help
Here is what you can do to help your skin health as you get older.
Drink lots of Water: This may seem obvious, but a surprising number of elders drink less and less water as they get older because they believe they don’t need to drink that much. Because you are losing fluids in your body as you get older, you need to drink more water to make up for the fluid loss.
Take Warm Baths and Showers: As we age our skin begins to dry out more. Hot water can then further dry out our skin. Our skin also begins to thin as we get older, making us more sensitive to temperature. Taking warm or cool baths and showers still allows you to get clean while also keeping some moisture in your skin and preventing burns.
Use Sunscreen: “Use sunscreen!” is often something we yell at our children as they run out of the house in the summer. However, adults need to use sunscreen too or in some cases wear protective clothing. Because our skin thins as we age the sun can be more harmful, causing burns or sun stroke more easily. You should be using sunscreen everyday when you leave the house, even in the winter as the harmful rays’ bounce and reflect off the snow.
Check Regularly: You should be checking your skin almost everyday for new spots or abnormalities like moles or rashes. These can often be harmless like age spots, or they could be signs of cancer or other diseases. With so many changes happening all at once it is better to be safe and check often. If something new does appear and you are unsure if it is normal or not, do not hesitate to go see your doctor or talk with your pharmacist. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Loss in Strength and Stamina
You may notice that as you get older you aren’t able to climb the stairs as easily or you can no longer pick up your grandchild without joint pain. This is completely normal. As we get older our muscles begin to degrade causing us to experience a loss in strength and stamina.
Our muscles will begin to lose tissue and become less toned, causing us to experience a loss in strength. This can then make activities like picking up heavy objects, getting out of bed, or doing hobbies like gardening much harder.
You can also expect a loss in stamina. Making things like exercise, walking up the stairs, standing, or maintaining activities much harder.
How you can help
Here is what you can do to improve and manage your strength and stamina as you get older.
Eat Healthy: Eating healthy may seem like age-old advice given to anyone and everyone, but there is a reason why. That is because it works. Switching over to a healthy diet can greatly improve your strength and stamina. Eating good foods like veggies and fruits, and iron-heavy foods like red meat or fish can be very helpful.
Exercise: This may seem counter productive as a loss of strength and stamina can make exercising harder. However, without exercise our muscles will continue to deteriorate further. By exercising we can build that strength back up and often be even stronger than we were before. Start small by going on regular walks, especially if you didn’t do much exercise beforehand. Then begin to work your way up to more strenuous work outs. Maybe even consider weight training.
Stretching: Stretching mixed with exercise can greatly improve your muscles. Not only should you be exercising to strength them, but you also need to stretch them to maintain their flexibility. Without stretching you can experience micro tears in the tissue. By stretching you can maintain their elasticity allowing you to push yourself more when it comes to exercise.
Harder to See and Hear
You may notice that you are having a harder time seeing when you read a book or trouble hearing when you are out in a crowded space. This is all normal. Just like everything else our eyes and ears begin to deteriorate as we get older.
You may begin to realize that it is suddenly harder to read and may need to get glasses for the first time in your life. Or if you already wear glasses, you may notice your vision is getting worse and may even experience glaucoma or cataracts. You may also begin to hear less. This could be higher frequencies or just in general. You may notice that you can only hear someone if they are right in front of you. Or loud spaces may cause you to experience confusion as you can no longer hear the person next to you.
How you can help
This is all completely normal, but there are still some things you can do to help.
Get Checked Regularly: It is always a good idea to go and get your hearing and sight checked regularly. When you are younger, they recommend getting your eyes checked every three years if there are no changes. However, as we age the changes can happen a lot more rapidly and without notice. Get checked every year if not every six months if you notice changes. You should also be getting your hearing checked every six months as well to ensure to don’t miss anything.
Wear Sunglasses: Up until this point, you may have avoided wearing sunglasses outside as that is just one extra thing you need to remember. However, wearing sunglasses helps protect your eyes from the harmful sun rays. Because our eyes are already deteriorating, going out without sunglasses can worsen it at a rapid rate. Besides, all that squinting is just going to add crow’s feet and wrinkles!
Ear plugs: Wearing ear plugs may seem counter intuitive as you are trying to hear more not less. However, wearing ear plugs in loud or crowded spaces may help you. It prevents you from getting overwhelmed and allows you to focus more on the person speaking to you. It will also allow you to maintain what hearing ability you have left, rather than making it worse by overloading your ears with a bunch of noise.
Memory loss may seem scary as it is often associated with things like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. However, memory loss on a minor level can be completely normal. Even when we are young, we all experience momentary lapses in memory, like forgetting where we put our car keys. As we get older, we continue to experience the same thing more often. Most of the time there is no need to worry about things like dementia, however, if you are worried or experiencing more memory loss then normal feel free to go get tested, it never hurts.
How you can help
Managing memory loss is quite easy once you know how.
Exercise Your Brain: Exercising your brain may seem like a weird concept, however, it can be very beneficial. Exercising your brain can be something as simple as doing a puzzle, as it helps retain memory and cognitive function. Or you could begin doing crosswords or sudoku, as they both require you to engage your use of memory. It could also be more complicated, like learning something new, such as a language or skill.
Make a Schedule: If you notice that you aren’t forgetting things all the time just occasionally, try creating a schedule. This will allow you to go about your daily tasks without much thought. If you do the same thing everyday it becomes easier to remember.
We hope this was helpful in allowing you to recognize normal signs of aging either in yourself or a loved one and some ways to help manage them. If you are interested in more health-related content, please check out the rest of our News page.