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Part 2: Implications of Aging

The major implication of healthy aging is that we live longer. That is a good outcome, however, living longer means that we increase in age and older age brings with it an increased risk for a number of chronic diseases.

We all know that aging causes wrinkles and gray hair but what else is considered a normal part of the aging process and what can be done about it?

1. Heart

Arteries and blood vessels stiffen as we age, and this causes our heart to have to work harder to pump blood through them. Heart health is promoted by eating healthily, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, getting enough sleep, and learning stress management techniques.

2. Bones, joints, and muscles

Bones may shrink in size and density as you age, and this weakens them making them more prone to fracture. Muscles can also lose strength, endurance, and flexibility and this can impact balance and coordination. 

To keep bones healthy, the American Bone Health association advises us to include lots of calcium in your diet and pay attention to Vitamin D because it is needed to absorb calcium. Also, by remaining active at all ages, you can build strong bones and slow bone loss and by regular stretching, you can reduce muscle deterioration. 

3. Digestion

While your risk of developing digestive disorders or disease increases moderately as you age, a well-balanced diet, regular exercise and letting your primary care provider know of any sudden changes in your digestive system can go a long way to maintaining a healthy digestion at any age. 

4. Brain and memory health

You can stay mentally active by continuing to learn new things, staying social and keeping your heart healthy

5. Eyes and ears

Aging can sometimes bring sensitivity to glare or trouble adjusting eyes to light or focusing on objects that are close. Hearing may also diminish over time. By receiving regular checkups and taking precautions such as, wearing sunglasses to protect from bright glare or wearing earplugs when around loud noises, you will promote your eye and ear health. 

6. Teeth

Your mouth changes as you age and certain medications such as those that treat allergies, high blood pressure, asthma and high cholesterol can also cause dry mouth. The American Dental Association promotes regular checkups and brushing and flossing at all ages. 

7. Skin

Skin becomes thinner and loses fat as we age. You might notice skin tags, age spots, wrinkles or more susceptibility to bruises.  The National Institute of Aging provides advice on how to care for aging skin. You can’t stop the aging process, but you can make choices to live your healthiest life. By remaining active, doing the things you enjoy and remaining social, you will promote good health.

If you have worries about any changes in your physical or mental health, contact your primary care provider.

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