I’m the same me I was at 30 or 40. I eat the same way, do the same exercises and activities and yet my body is changing! What’s going on?
Based on what is happening to me, I did some research to see what some of the typical changes are as we age – here is the cliff notes version.
What Changes Happen to Aging Bodies
We shrink on average two inches before age 80. Our spine collapses due to loss of fluid in the discs between our vertebrae. This makes it painful to move after sitting for awhile as well as causing height loss! The arches in our feet fall. This makes the core of our bodies look disproportional to our limbs (no arms and legs don’t continue to grow).
Our weight distributes itself differently – possibly accumulating in our middle area. Men and women both lose weight (sorry, but the loss is not usually fat, it is usually muscle and bone) during their late sixties and seventies, but men start earlier and lose more (go figure!).
It thins (sometimes to paper thin), gets age spots, dries out, heals more slowly, tears more easily, sags due to loss of epidermal support and wrinkles.
We lose density in our bones – including loss of calcium and other minerals.
Our face bones change, eye sockets become bigger and deeper, overall we lose bone mass in the facial area, we experience reductions in the angles of the brow, nose and upper jaw and the length and height of the lower jaw decreases. Our hip bones keep getting wider, even into our seventies. Some folks think that the ears and nose continue to grow as well, others think they just get droopy and look bigger.
Hair gets thinner and gray in most of us. Also you may start growing more hair in your ears as you age (also your nose) – especially if you are male. No one seems to know why. If you are a woman, you will likely get peach fuzz all over your face and some coarse hairs on your upper lip!
Finger and toenails
Some of us get vertical ridges in our nails (this apparently can also be caused by lack of moisture, nutrients or disease).
Dry eyes and age related muscular degeneration are two conditions on which you will want to consult with your doctor.
Pupils become smaller and less responsive to light – so we may need more light to see as well. The lens losses elasticity – we lose the power to focus. Our lens also yellows as we grow older – affecting the way we see color.
Ears appear to grown longer as we age, some folks think it is related to gravity and the collapse of supporting collagen in our skin. Dr. Stephan Juan in the Register lists some studies proving that ears are actually longer in older people (they measured!).
Hearing loss is also apt to occur – especially if you have family history of hard of hearing, were exposed to a lot of loud noises or smoked. Loss is highly associated with aging – 43% of those in the 65+ range reporting hearing loss in the 1994 National Health Survey
Our neck skin sags creating a wonderful turkey waffle like area which is hard to firm up. Most think this is due to loss of elasticity of the collagen in our epidural layer.
Our joints become stiffer and less flexible. We may lose fluid in them, and our cartilage may erode by rubbing together. We can also get calcification (mineral deposits) in and around our joints.
We can lose joint cartilage in our hip and knee joints. – making it painful to move about.
Or we can get arthritis, which isn’t necessarily related to aging, unless it is Osteoarthritis. According to WebMD
“Osteoarthritis… is often called degenerative joint disease and is the most common type of arthritis in the over-50 crowd. As we get older, the rubbery cartilage that serves as a shock absorber to our joints becomes stiff, loses its elasticity, and becomes more susceptible to damage. As the cartilage wears away, tendons and ligaments stretch, causing pain. It can occur in almost any joint in the body – most commonly in the fingers, hips, knees, and spine.
Symptoms include joint aching and soreness, pain, and bony knots in the finger joints. Medications, painkillers, and alternative supplements (like glucosamine and chondroitin) can help relieve the pain. But lifestyle changes like weight loss may also be necessary to reduce stress on weight-bearing joints.”
Hmmm think I might have this one!
Scientists are really starting to study our aging brains (now that there are so many of us and living longer to boot), but don’t seem to really have a handle on what happens to it as we age. Some studies suggest that we lose weight and volume in our brains (darn why can’t it be my belly!), that brain surface grooves widen and swellings become smaller. The jury is still out as to whether age related forgetfulness and dementia is really age related, or disease related. Evidence supports the theory that lifestyle affects the way your brain ages.
Your blood vessels and heart valves become less elastic. Your blood vessel walls thicken and get fatty deposits lining them. This causes restricted blood flow that may make you short of breath more easily and fatigued faster.
Your lungs become less elastic, causing you difficulty in taking deep breaths or use the oxygen you do get well.
Muscles lose mass and may be replaced by fatty deposits.
- MSNBC.COM http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40929622/ns/health-skin_and_beauty/t/its-not-just-our-skin-ages-face-bones-change-too/
- My Health News Daily http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/hip-bones-widen-with-age-1550/
- Beautiful Healthy Fingernails http://www.beautiful-healthy-fingernails.com/ridges-in-fingernails.html
- Real Age http://www.realage.com/check-your-health/eye-health/aging-eye-2
- WebMd http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/features/joint-pain-management-age?page=2
- US National Library of Medicine http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001045.htm
- My Senior Health Care http://www.myseniorhealthcare.com/Effects-Of-Aging-On-Your-Body.html
- How Stuff Works http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/aging/aging-process/aging1.htm
- Health in Aging http://www.healthinaging.org/agingintheknow/chapters_ch_trial.asp?ch=1#Bodily Changes Associated with Aging
- National Institute on Aging http://www.nia.nih.gov/NewsAndEvents/
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/aging/