Unexpected Physical Changes That Occur as You Age
Most people don’t think much about the physical changes that often occur as they age, but when they do, they think of things such as getting gray hair, developing wrinkles or maybe getting a touch of arthritis.
These issues are quite common in an aging population, but they are far from being the only ones that people must deal with as time progresses.
While it is true that individuals age at different rates and are not all plagued by the same ailments, it’s a good thing to have some idea as to what you might expect to see happening to you down the road.
Here are some issues you might want to consider.
Due to changes in hormones, it is common for both men and women to start “drying out”.
This means that any area in your body loses it’s moisture content and can cause major and very uncomfortable problems.
Many people begin to suffer from dry mouth, which can cause dental problems. When this happens, they must use special medications on the interior of their mouths to help offset the dryness.
Nasal passages can split open and form lumps that become infected. Sometimes this occurs from using medications such as Flonase, but other times it’s just a product of aging.
People use saline sprays to help combat this problem, but a better choice is something called , which is an across the counter saline gel that is recommended for use by many ear, nose and throat doctors because it lasts longer than saline spray and is more soothing to nasal tissues. AYR
I started using this product following a nasal infection that was caused by over use of Flonase. I continue to use it because it really does make a difference.
The heels of people’s feet also are areas that become quite dry. When this situation is left untreated, they can become quite painful. The skin can split and infections can set in.
The best way to avoid this type of problem is to soak the feet in a mixture of vinegar and water for 20 minutes several times each week and also make sure to use a heavy body cream such as every day. I have used this product for years and found it to be a much better skin softening cream than many others I tried in the past. Aloe Vesta 3 Protective Ointment
Many older people also find that they need to use creams and lotions on all areas of their skin every day to protect them from dryness and the problems that can accompany it.
Dehydration is a very common problem that occurs as people grow older. However, it’s more of an entire internal body problem.
People who don’t ingest enough fluids daily often have to deal with this issue, and it can become quite serious. Your blood pressure drops, you get light headed and can faint, and, if not treated, this condition can damage your kidneys.
This is one you don’t see coming because you can’t feel it until it gets to the point where symptoms appear. If it goes too far, you generally have to be hospitalized because you’ll need to have a day or more of IV fluids pumped into your body to restore the balance of your electrolytes.
The only “cure” for it is to drink in the same amount of fluids you lose through various bodily functions such as urination and sweating.
You can control it, but expect to get up often at night to use the toilet!
Some people stop taking in fluids after their evening meal to avoid having their sleep interrupted, but doing this can exacerbate dehydration.
On the other hand, lack of continued, sound sleep creates its own set of problems!
Another problem older people must deal with occurs when various parts of their bodies develop bumps.
These frighten individuals because they always worry that they are getting some form of cancer—and sometimes they are!
Most of the time, these small bumps are harmless. They just look bad. Usually, they are red or brown and look almost like dots.
There is no way to prevent them, so most people try to keep them covered.
Hair in Strange Places
Younger people love to play with their hair. They style it differently, grow it as beards, and even color it. They use it as a beauty accessory and have fun doing so.
However, hair isn’t quite so much fun to deal with when you start aging because hair starts to do its own thing.
Sometimes, it shows up in the strangest and most embarrassing places!
Women start to develop whiskers and a heavier growth of hair on their faces. Men’s ears sometimes fill with hair, and their eyebrows become thick and bushy.
While most people have hair that turns partially or totally gray, just about everybody notices that its consistency changes.
For some, it thins. Others find themselves losing it altogether. Many have to tolerate a brittleness that did not exist in their younger years, which makes it difficult to properly style.
This is why you see so many women “perming” their hair or wearing it quite short and why you see men trying to hide their bald spots by trying to comb whatever hair they have left over the thin areas. Some women go partially or completely bald as well.
These issues are not fun to deal with because they make people look older and constantly remind them that they are aging.
I once went to an afternoon concert that was attended by older people. I sat in the back row which was higher than the rows in front of it. When the theater filled up, and everybody was seated, it donned on me that what I was looking at what appeared to be rows of cotton balls!
One of the reasons older people walk slowly is that their feet are killing them.
The years of wearing cheap or ill-fitting shoes coupled with a variety of health problems or inherited genetic problems create a variety of very painful deformities.
- Bunions come from wearing shoes that are too tight or from excessive bone growth in the feet, which is something that happens to many old timers.
- Ingrown toenails appear due to improper trimming of toenails and wearing shoes or socks that are too tight.
- Bone spurs pop up almost overnight anywhere on the foot and are due to deformities caused by illnesses.
Any of these conditions makes walking uncomfortable and sometimes impossible. They also can cause falls due to the fact that they throw off physical balance.
The bone spurs cannot be avoided, but bunions and ingrown toenails can be done away with in most cases simply by wearing properly fitting footwear throughout your life.
Older people often lose some of their eyesight, but this problem can be corrected by wearing glasses or contact lenses.
Many, but not all, also develop cataracts. This is a condition that can only be repaired with surgery. Without the surgery, vision can be almost totally obliterated.
A bigger problem is an issue called macular degeneration (MD). There are two types: wet and dry. Both are considered to be incurable. However, the dry type progresses more slowly. A small portion of people who get the dry type eventually see it turn into the wet type, which is much more serious.
The wet type progresses much faster and causes total loss of vision more quickly,
You can get MD in one or both eyes, but there is no known cure. Some doctors offer shots in the afflicted eyes. In many cases, these will slow the progress of the disease, but they are not fun to have and people must get them fairly often.
Younger people rarely think about the fact that vision problems such as these might affect them, but they should, because knowing that smoking doubles their risk of getting macular degeneration might make them think twice about doing it!
One problem few people ever think about is the loss of balance. This is a common issue with may older people, especially those who don’t get much exercise or who have been ill.
While, on the surface, loss of balance may not seem like a big deal, but it definitely becomes one when it causes people to fall.
Falls aren’t good no matter someone’s age, but they happen more often in the elderly and can lead to death. The statistics are shocking. An article in The Senior Health and Wellness Blog provides the details and should make every aging person learn ways of protecting themselves.
For example, they can do such things as
- looking down when walking to avoid tripping,
- putting grab bars in bathrooms,
- wearing low heeled shoes with non-slip bottoms,
- paying attention to what they are doing and
- walking slowly, rather than rushing.
Learning to hold onto someone else’s arm—or even on counters in the kitchen—as you do things is also helpful.
Many seniors eschew the idea of using walkers and canes, but they can make the difference between sustaining serious injuries and avoiding them.
When I was young, I was extremely athletic and loved to dance, but I am now 74 and am realistic enough to know that to stay safe, I must limit my activities.
I’ve had two bad falls in the past few years, each of which caused serious damage and caused a year each of healing time. So, when I tell you about losing balance, I am doing so based on research as well as my own experiences.
What to Do
Everything mentioned in this article happens to real people, but not all of them happen to everybody.
On the other hand, they are not isolated from one another. For example, someone with foot deformities can also have balance problems and may even have vision problems.
It is human nature to assume that if something is going to happen, it will only be that one thing, but nothing is farther from the truth.
Sooner or later, if you live long enough, you’re going to have to deal with one or more of the issues mentioned above.
You won’t think about them at first because your attention will be drawn to the big boys of health problems such as cancer and heart disease.
You may get them, in addition to the less noticeable problems, so be prepared.
The best you can do is learn how to deal with the physical changes that may occur in your life as you age by eating properly, avoiding habits that endanger your health, staying hydrated and exercising as you have the time and ability to do so.
One more thing: when you see an older person walking or driving slowly, remember what you’ve read here. Be kind, because one day that person may be you!
Were you aware that these types of physical changes occur as you age?
© 2018 Sondra Rochelle