What are the normal changes of aging? This is a common question among older adults who begin to experience gradual changes either physically, mentally or emotionally. Each person shows signs of aging differently, primarily due to a combination of family genetics and lifestyle. Many adults worry if the changes they are experiencing are “normal” or if they are acquiring harmful symptoms that could lead to a serious illness. If you are having concerns about your health, it is important to recognize when it is time to see a doctor. Regular doctor visits can not only help to give you peace of mind, but also detect if there is something abnormal without worry that an illness has gone undetected for a prolonged period of time. Have an open dialog with your doctor informing him or her of any concerns and potential symptoms you may have.
As we age, naturally we experience more. Sometimes “more” includes joys such as watching new life grow and flourish, celebrating milestones, passing down family traditions, gaining wisdom, passing down bits of that wisdom, slowing down and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. In between the joys, inevitably there will be hard times to cope with as well. With life comes death and losing loved ones can be difficult to cope with. While emotional ups and downs can be expected, prolonged states of sadness, stress, depression and or anxiety are not healthy and should not be categorized as “normal aging”. Wether you are experiencing normal or abnormal changes due to aging, know you can feel better and enjoy life no matter what your circumstances are now or may be in the future.
7 Normal Changes of Aging:
- Reasoning Skills may Slow. Studies recorded in the British Medical Journal have shown that reasoning skills decline by 3.6% in adults between 45–49 years old over the span of 10 years. Reasoning skills tested include, sharpness in memory, verbal fluency and the ability to say words quickly in a specific category. Though these types of skills may not be quite as sharp as they once were, the same studies also showed that moral decisions, emotional control and reading social situations all increased.
- Worsening Eye Sight. Once you hit 40, if you’re not reaching for your readers…you are one of the few! Having to use reading glasses is normal, however, make sure to have your eyes examined anytime there is a change in sight to check for glaucoma, macular degeneration or other eye issues that require treatment.
- Gradual Hearing Loss. Approximately a third of those 60+ have some hearing loss. If you find that sounds are a bit muffled and high pitched voices are harder to understand, you are not alone. According to Robert Dobie, MD, professor of otolaryngology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, ear pain, rapid hearing loss or drainage from the ear could be signs of an infection or tumor and needs examining.
- Decrease in Strength or Stamina. The natural course of aging decreases muscle tissue, slows our heart rate and makes it a bit more challenging to exercise as intensely as someone in their 20’s. Continuing or beginning to become active through regular stretching, walking and other forms of exercise such as aerobics can improve stamina and over all health at any age.
- Forgetfulness. Momentary lapses in memory are completely normal as we age. Forgetfulness can be frustrating but it doesn’t have to be worrisome. As we age we experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions such as forgetting the name of an acquaintance you haven’t seen in a while. The older we get, the more time is takes to recall information, allow yourself time and try not to be hard on yourself. Remember not all memory loss is a sign of dementia.
- Moments of Sadness. Aging can come with it’s share of challenging changes. It is normal to have moments of sadness when coping with change or loss. Depression, however, is not a normal part of aging. If you feel prolonged sadness, anxiety or stress, see your doctor as soon as possible. Depression is not a form of weakness nor is it a way of life under any circumstance.
- Gray Hair and Wrinkles: Graying is largely determined by your genes although some say high stress levels can bring about the gray hair as well. Many adults these days show off their silver locks (and laugh lines) proudly. You may have even seen teen’s and young adults sporting gray/silver hair as a fashion statement, and why not? It’s beautiful!
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