Changes Associated With Aging
Changes Associated With Aging
As people approach old age, they experience many different types of changes. There are many physical as well as biological changes that occur as people age. Hormonal and reproductive changes also occur. These types of changes contribute to aging and life expectancy. Most of these changes happen to everybody eventually, however there are a few interventions that can be done to help delay some of the negative changes that are experienced with old age. It is important for people to understand what types of changes to expect in order to delay the aging process successfully.
First, it is necessary to understand what causes people to age in the first place. Over time, changes start to occur within cells that cause them to become less efficient. For example, DNA can eventually become faulty causing it to work improperly. Every strand of DNA has a telomere at the end to help prevent it from deteriorating. Telomeres can eventually shorten, putting DNA and chromosomes at risk for damage. Hormonal changes also occur. Hormones are chemicals produced by endocrine glands that help regulate certain functions of the body. A decrease in hormone activity can contribute to aging. Finally, a protein called beta amyloid is produced in greater quantities in older individuals. This protein causes aging because it interferes with neuron functioning. All of these things combined, as well as wear and tear effects causes deterioration and contributes to the aging process (V. Hill, personal communication, 1/27/2011).
As people approach old age, there are many other biological changes that occur over time. Sensory changes are extremely common in adults. Vision becomes less sharp early in adulthood. Presbyopia, difficulty seeing objects that are close, usually starts to occur for adults in their forties. Contrast sensitivity also occurs with old age which impairs vision and might make it difficult for older adults to see objects that do not stand out very well. There are also a few problems that can occur to an individual's eyes causing impaired vision. Cataracts involve the lens of the eye becoming opaque, making it more difficult to see clearly. Age - related maculopathy occurs when structures in the eye start to degenerate, resulting in impaired vision. Also, glaucoma involves pressure inside the eye which can lead to blindness if it does not get treated (V. Hill, personal communication, 2/1/2011).
Besides changes effecting vision, there are also changes that occur with age that effect hearing as well. There are a few structures located in the inner ear that are responsible for every body's ability to hear. If there is degeneration of any of these structures, it will impair hearing. Presbycusis, or trouble hearing high pitched sounds, is the most common hearing related problem associated with old age. Another issue that can occur when degeneration occurs is tinnitus. Tinnitus is the medical term for ringing, whistling, or crackling sounds heard in the ears. As individuals age, it becomes more difficult to hear speech sounds, especially if they are high pitched (V. Hill, personal communication, 2/1/2011).
Changes in taste, smell, and touch also occur with old age. Older adults become less sensitive to all basic tastes. In addition to this, the sense of smell also declines with age. Sensitivity to touch is impaired in older individuals, especially in the lower extremities. This puts older individuals at risk for falling (V. Hill, personal communication, 2/8/2011). Older individuals also become less aware of changes in temperature. They become less sensitive to pain, which puts them at greater risk for injury. Finally, older individuals are more likely to experience kinesthetic impairment (V. Hill, personal communication, 2/8/2011).
Biological changes also occur over time in the brain. With time, neurons, cells that make up the...
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