Monday, June 15, 2009

aging: what's going on - and off?


Have you ever noticed when a person approaches you but is still a good way off, you already have a sense of their age? I'm not talking about the obvious difference between children and adults, but subtle signs of age in a full-grown person who could be any age. We pick this up pretty much subconsciously, taking in a multitude of body language clues -- a thickening of the body, a face slumping ever so slightly into jowls, a wrinkly neck, the beginning of stooped shoulders, the spring or lack of it in the step.

We can't talk about aging without mentioning some of the physical changes. Of course we all know about gray hair, wrinkled skin and going bald. Here are some of the less known physical changes that aging also brings:

1. Some men grow hair in their ears.

2. Irises lose their pigment.

3. Gums recede.

4. People lose height. It's estimated that one loses 1 cm. every 10 years after age 40. In total, that could be a loss of 1-3 inches by the time we're age 75.

5. Fingernail growth slows, nails become dull, brittle, yellowed and opaque. Nail ridges may develop and tips of nails crumble and chip.

6. Toenails become hard and thick.

7. Skin thins and is more fragile.

8. Senses become less acute. Hearing, for example, may begin to decline at about age 50. Hearing loss is especially noticeable for high frequency sounds.

9. Aging eyes produce less tears.

10. By 60 years pupils decrease to about one third of their size at 20.

11. The number of taste buds decreases.

12. The mouth produces less saliva.

13. Ear wax gets dryer and more likely to get impacted in the ear - making hearing even worse!

Depressed yet? Because that's just a start. We haven't even begun to look at the changes that happen inside our bodies to bones, muscles and organs.

But there is one ray of hope. The Medline Plus website encyclopedia where I found all this enlightenment assures us: "Dementia and severe memory loss are NOT normal processes of aging."

Oh really? With everything else that's going on - and off - maybe memory loss would be a blessing!

2 comments:

Lynda S. said...

I'm hoping I'll be like my mother. She stopped sweating as she aged. Since rumor has it that we soon won't be able to get deodorant here (don't ask!) not sweating would be good!

And, as far as thickened nails are concerned, check with your doctor. It could be a fungal infection cleared up with six months of LAMISIL pills (but only if you don't have liver disease).

As for the rest, oh well, can't win them all!

violet said...

You're funny about the not sweating part. I agree that would be good!

I never thought of thickened nails as a fungal infection. Of course it could be that, but it is also known to be one of the signs of aging feet (and my 90-something mom had the toenails to prove it).

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