As we grow older, we experience several physical and emotional changes. These changes are more apparent and difficult for people who aren’t healthy and active in caring for their bodies and mind. Women and men undergo similar changes with a few different ones as well.
- Bone, Muscle, and Joints: when a person ages, their bones shrink and become less dense & brittle. This can cause some people’s height to decrease as they get older. In addition, muscle development slows down and causes. Muscles can become less toned and have a reduced ability to contract. Joints can lose cartilage, flexibility, and strength.
- Weight: for women, metabolism decreases and can cause more fat around the hips and stomach. If a woman doesn’t keep an active lifestyle, excessive fat can increase the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. For men, large amounts of fat stop accumulating around their mid-50s. However, their weight can increase since hormonal shifts, metabolism decreases, and lower stamina.
- Cardiovascular System: the older you are, the stiffer your blood vessels and arteries, causing your heart to pump harder. This can cause hypertension (high blood pressure) and other cardiovascular issues. In addition, estrogen (a hormone responsible for a woman’s sexual & reproductive health) decreases after menopause, making women more susceptible to heart disease.
- Kidney, Urinary, and Pelvic Organ: Older men and women will begin to experience urinary incontinence, which is losing the ability to control their bladder fully. This causes leaking urine while you laugh, sneeze, or cough. For women, this can be caused by pelvic organ prolapse, a condition where the pelvic muscles & ligaments responsible for holding pelvic organs, such as the bladder & kidney, loosen. This causes the kidney to be less efficient when removing waste from the bloodstream.
- Brain and Nervous System: we begin to lose cells the older we get. When our brain cells decrease, it causes memory loss, slower reflex action, lesser coordination, and distraction. The brain increases the number of cell connections to conserve brain function.
- Digestive System: Digestive reflexes and swallowing decrease due to the esophagus’ reduced force of contraction. In addition, secretion flow that aids digestion in the stomach, liver, pancreas, and small intestine decreases.
- Skin and Hair: Skin can lose its elasticity & skin moisture and becomes dry & thinner. This causes wrinkles and less sweating, increasing the risk of heat stroke and exhaustion during hot weather. Hair falls out more, thins, greys, and grows slower.
- Eyes and Ears: Eyes will lose their total capacity to see in low-light conditions. In addition, we may recognize colors differently, lose our peripheral vision, reduced ability to produce tears, and have cloudier lenses. Several older people find it hard to hear high-pitched sounds or in noisy places. This can be due to the person having been exposed to loud noises throughout their lifetime.
Sexual and Reproductive Health Changes
Menopause is a natural process where a woman’s menstrual cycle ends permanently, marking the end of her reproductive years. This is when the ovaries stop producing reproductive hormones, and a woman no longer gets monthly menstruation. Estrogen levels drop during menopause, leading to breast change, pelvic floor prolapse, and so on.
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- Breast: Breasts begin to lose their elasticity, causing sagging. In addition, the older a woman gets, the greater her chances of developing breast cancer due to the changes in estrogen levels.
- Hormones: Blood levels can increase, decrease, or stay the same for some hormones. Hormones can also be metabolized slower, causing changes in the reproductive system. Some of the ways changes in hormone production affect women include:
- Vaginal walls lose elasticity, discharge, and thickness, causing during sexual intercourse.
- Increased risk of developing a vaginal yeast infection.
- External tissue of the genitals reduces and thins, increasing the risk of irritation.
- In addition, a woman is less likely to be fertile or give birth to a healthy baby as she ages and has an increased risk of developing gynecological conditions.
- Erectile Dysfunction: ED is the inability to get and maintain an erection long enough to finish intercourse. It can cause psychological effects on both the man and his partner.
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- Testosterone: Testosterone is a hormone responsible for male maturation, such as developing muscles, deepening the voice, and growing body hair. As a man ages, his testosterone levels decrease, resulting in changes in sexual desire, lower energy, erectile function, and more.
- Prostate: Benign protatic enlargement is common for men once they turn 50. In addition, older men have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
Mental & Emotional Health:
Older people are more likely to experience more anxiety, stress, fear, irritability, and depression, sometimes due to the “Empty nest syndrome.” This is when kids, if there are, have moved out, and now the woman feels nostalgic or misses having them around. In addition, cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias are more likely to occur.
Taking care of your overall well-being:
Keep Active: It is essential to have an active lifestyle to boost your energy, improve mood, strengthen muscles, and prevent more issues from developing.
Diet: Always have a nutritious diet with plenty of water and fluids. This can decrease your chances of acquiring heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and the like.
Mental health: Taking care of your mental health is essential to having a good life. You must be aware of your triggers and emotional responses in different situations. The less aware you are, the more distressed you will be. Constantly assess your emotions and determine why you feel like you are.