The Other Side of 50

By: Jody Smith

If we take care of our health as we get older, we can prevent or delay many of the changes that are associated with aging. But some types of changes are going to take more effort to prevent than others and some may be beyond our control.

What are the areas in which the most common changes from aging may affect us?

Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other types of dementia are more than forgetfulness. They're more than extreme forgetfulness. It's not the loss of elusive information that you need to be wary of. Rather, it is the loss of the ability to comprehend at all, the inability to have complete thoughts and be able to understand what is going on around you.

You may have forgotten where you left your keys. But when you find them, do you know what they're for? The first example is nothing to worry about. The second one is an indicator of early dementia.

You may feel your advancing years in your bones. Arthritis and osteoporosis are the most common types of deterioration in bones and joints.

Arthritis attacks the joints with pain, swelling and stiffness. Arthritis comes in many forms, including osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Osteoporosis may also be making our bones thinner and more porous and more vulnerable to breaking. Combined with a decrease in balance and dexterity, older people may be prone to falling and serious injury.

Your vision may not be as sharp as it used to be. Changes in vision are liable to begin around age 40. Cataracts and macular degeneration may appear around age 60.

Hearing can also be affected as you age, becoming noticeable for a third of American adults between 65 and 74 years of age. Half of those 85 or older will have trouble hearing.

As you get older, your digestion may not be what it used to be. Pre-diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn are some of the common digestion problems older people may deal with.

About 10 percent of people who are 65 years old or older can experience incontinence. Problems can range from a little leaking once in awhile to complete urinary incontinence.

Dental deterioration will happen if vigilant care is not taken of teeth and gums. Tooth decay is a life-long hazard to teeth. Periodontal disease or gingivitis affect the gums, and can lead to infection and tooth loss.

Your skin can lose the youthful bloom along the way. Skin becomes thinner and dryer. Skin cancer may affect about half of all Americans by the age of 65.

People over the age of 50 who had chickenpox in childhood are prone to the development of shingles, which makes them sick, sore, and rashy.

So that's the overview of some of what can lay in the future. Doesn't sound very promising. But seniors who are willing to make conscious lifestyle changes can work with their strengths and accept or overcome their weaknesses.

Sources:

8 Areas of Age-Related Change

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/winter07/articles/winter07pg10-13.html

Aging changes in the senses

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/004013.htm

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