Aging is a fact of life. By the time you reach your 50s, you may notice physical changes that can scare you. Panic not!
Don’t let aging be an albatross around your neck. Learn what new bodily features to expect as you age, and the best steps you can take to limit their effects.
It’s Easy to Lose Muscle Tone
As people age, they tend to slow down. Statistics suggest, after the tender age of 30, adults begin to lose as much as 3% to 8% of muscle mass every ten years. The loss is even higher in adults over 60.
Unfortunately, loss of muscle mass can lead to a greater chance of injury. A study by the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research found that people with sarcopenia (the technical term for muscle mass loss – now you know) have 2.3 times the risk of a low-trauma fracture from a fall, such as a collarbone, leg, broken hip, an arm or wrist.
One of the chief culprits? Too many people use growing older as an excuse to become sedentary. What is worse, a decline in physical activity not only results in a loss of muscle mass and tone, it also means you’re burning fewer calories. While it may be normal to gain some weight as you age, simply ignoring it could lead to shorter life, less quality of life and an increased likelihood of injury.
Begin by considering your eating habits. As your metabolism slows, try reducing your caloric intake by 300 to 500 calories a day. In addition, increase your physical activity – aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises are best for improving and retaining tone and maintaining a healthy weight.
Seniors Face Dental Hygiene Issues
Dental hygiene is an area of concern regardless of age. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that only 64% of adults 18 to 64 visit their dentist annually. After 65, it’s about 66% – that’s an awful lot of people who don’t even have a simple cleaning every year (it is generally recommended to see a dentist twice annually).
The difficulty here is that if you have bad oral hygiene when you’re younger, chances are it won’t improve with age. The longer you let it slide, the more you increase your chances of having increasingly serious dental (and even physical) problems over time.
One of the biggest dental issues, especially for seniors, is tooth loss. Without a full-set of healthy teeth, you risk gum deterioration, jawbone resorption, and facial collapse.
Prevent dental problems as you age! Brush at least twice daily with a soft head toothbrush, floss every day before sleep, and visit your dentist regularly. Also, don’t delay treating problems that demand immediate care, like gum disease – it actually can kill you.
Aging Skin Requires More Care
Skin care is essential as people age. While problems such as wrinkles, dry skin and age spots are inevitable, you can avoid other issues such as acne and sun damage through proper skin care.
As people age, hormones change, cell renewal declines, and the human body produces fewer natural oils. Rays from the sun advance the aging process and lead to spider veins, dark spots, and wrinkles. Additionally, years in the sun may lead to basal cell carcinoma or melanoma (skin cancer).
Although the sun is a good source of vitamin D, too much can age skin faster. An average of 10 to 15 minutes of daily sun can give you the health benefits and reduce your chances of skin damage – more than that can be harmful.
Be sure to moisturize daily (that means guys, too), especially after you shower. Speaking of showers, blot your skin dry instead of rubbing harshly. This will reduce the chance of rubbing away important natural oils. Remember, as Billy Crystal once said, “it’s better to look good than to feel good.” Ain’t it the truth?
Keep an Eye on Your Eyes
The eyes are the windows to our souls. They can tell a lot about someone’s health. If they’re red, blurry, or dry, you may be sitting in front of your computer too much or just be overly sleepy. However, if you’re over the age of 50, there may be something else wrong.
Tired eyes accompanied by headaches may be a sign of presbyopia, a loss in your ability to see close objects or small print. Blurred or hazy vision may be a sign of cataracts. Floaters – small cobweb-like objects that float into view – are usually a normal part of aging. However, they also can be the sign of retinal detachment. Ensure eye health as you age by having annual checkups with an eye doctor.
Make Sure to Get the Right Medical Checkups
Just like when you were a youngster and your parents took you to the doctor for age-appropriate checkups, there are age-related medical screenings for older adults. Along with annual health reviews of your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure, there are other periodic health checks that your doctor should be recommending for you, depending on your gender.
For men and women, your doctor may screen annually for diabetes, hepatitis C, or lung cancer (if you smoke). For women, an annual mammogram and Pap smear continue to be vital. Additionally, your physician may recommend a bone density screening. Finally, most doctors suggest a colonoscopy every 10 years for all adults beginning at the age of 50.
The best way to know which medical screenings are right for you is to speak with your primary care physician.
Growing older is a normal part of the life cycle. Taking good care of your health should be, too. That means, getting regular health checkups. self-care of your body and being honest with yourself about what you can and should be doing to make your over-fifty years the happiest they can be. Happy aging!
Contributed by DSHildebrand
Editor: Clifford S. Yurman