Getting older can be a scary process for both the person aging and their family members. The scariest part of the aging process is the unknown – wondering what will happen, how you will handle it, and if you will make it through difficult times might keep you up at night.
Knowing what’s happening inside your body and mind during the aging process can help you feel more comfortable about it all. There is power in information, and if you know what’s happening to you (or a loved one), you are less likely to feel afraid of what’s to come.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that are happening and how you can take charge of your mind, body, and spirit during the aging process.
The Aging Process – What’s Happening to Your Body?
As you age, your heart health can take a hit. Even if you’re healthy and take care of your body regularly, your heart might not feel the same way. When one is aging, the most common change to occur to the heart is the stiffening of blood vessels and arteries. What this does is cause your heart to work overtime. It works extremely hard to keep the blood flowing from your heart to the rest of your body, which can cause fatigue and shortness of breath. You could develop high blood pressure and other heart concerns, so it’s important to keep up with your health regimen to do everything you can to keep your heart in tip-top shape.
You can do the following to help promote heart healthiness:
- Watch your diet and include more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains rather than saturated fats and salt.
- Do not smoke. This seems like a given for most healthy people, but if you do smoke you should discontinue any smoking immediately. If that sounds like a tall order, head over to the CDC’s website for countless resources to help you quit.
- Get enough exercise. There are great workouts for those going through the aging process such as swim aerobics, walking, and other healthy activities. Not only will it help your heart continue to pump blood without overworking itself, but you will also keep your weight down and decrease other health risks, too.
- Avoid stress. Everyone faces stress at one time or another in their lives. But as a person gets older, stress can cause unneeded problems such as heart issues. Check out this article on how to keep your stress to a minimum!
Your Bones and Joints
According to doctors at the Mayo Clinic, a person’s body can suffer some discomforts in their bones and joints when going through the aging process. It is understandable that a person’s body may feel aches and pains as their bones and joints start to weaken or even lose function.
What we do know is that researchers from institutions such as The National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine say that there are certain things you can do to prevent your bones from losing density and becoming weaker overall. Here’s what you can do to help your bones and joints through the aging process:
- Increase your vitamin D and calcium intake. Knowing that your body is going through changes should alert you to the fact that it might lose certain nutrients it needs. The recommended amount of vitamin D for adults 70 and older is 800 IU. Calcium is also recommended for adults 71 years and older at a rate of 1,200 mg per day. Both of these nutrients are vital to keeping your bones and joints healthy and happy.
- Take it easy on high-impact physical activity. Even if you are used to exercising regularly, you may want to take a step back and do light activities like walking or tennis. These physical activities keep your body moving but don’t require much strain on your bones and joints. Check out these exercises you can do to keep your body moving and grooving no matter what age!
Your Digestive System
Things tend to move a little bit slower in the digestive system. That’s no surprise as everything in your body is working at a slower pace. There’s nothing wrong this fact, but there are things you can do to keep your digestion moving efficiently.
- Keep your fluid intake up. Dehydration can cause serious issues with your digestion, which means the more fluids you drink, the less likely you are to experience dehydration. This is an easy fix you can do on your own to keep things moving as they should!
- Include some light physical activity in your daily schedule. This could be something as simple as a walk around the neighborhood or a light swim at your local YMCA. Whatever it is you choose to do, keep your body moving, and everything else inside will follow.
- Go to the bathroom when you need to! Nothing is worse for your digestive system than holding in a bowel movement. Doctors recommend going to the restroom as soon as you feel the urge to help avoid constipation.
Your Eyes and Ears
Most people notice that their eyesight is going, or their hearing is lacking a lot faster than any other signs of the aging process. While your eyesight might be easy to notice on your own, you may not be able to recognize hearing trouble without help from family and friends. As you age, it is highly important to continue to see your doctors as a preventative measure and avoid further problems.
Your doctor can test your hearing and eyesight easily in their office. If something comes up, they can help you get a solution figured out quickly. Having a loss of vision or hearing can be dangerous to you and others around you. Make sure you’re keeping up with routine visits to avoid any further issues.
What’s Happening in Your Mind During the Aging Process?
Your brain is going to experience some changes that may or may not be a surprise to you. Sometimes, those changes can catch you off guard (and your family, too). However, there are some things you can do to help keep the difficulty of remembering tasks, names, dates, etc., and other memory issues from being a major problem in your everyday life.
- Keep up the physical activity. Making sure that your body is continually moving (in an age-appropriate manner) will keep your brain healthy. When your brain is healthy, your memory and thinking skills will continue to be at the top of their game, too.
- Continue to be social. There is nothing better for your brain and thinking skills than continuing to talk and interact with new and familiar faces. Your brain will have to keep up with what’s happening around it, which will make it continue to work. Staying isolated can cause serious issues for your memory as your brain won’t be required to work much at all.
- Play games, read, or take up new hobbies. Doctors and research support the idea that playing games, reading, and/or taking on a new hobby can be great for keeping your mind fresh. With the constant need to think about new ideas, the brain will work to keep up.
If you find yourself concerned with memory issues or brain functions, you should speak to your primary care physician immediately. They can help you determine your next steps and determine if your memory and thinking functions are working well or if they need special attention.
Signs of Dementia
Memory and thinking functions are vital to a person’s well-being and overall health. For those who find themselves with concerns of dementia or Alzheimer’s, talking with a doctor is the first step to determining if there are real concerns to be worried about.
The aging process doesn’t have to be scary or something to fear. Knowing the signs of the aging process can help you feel more confident and secure in what’s happening inside and outside of your body. Aging is a beautiful thing, but it is something you should understand to fully embrace the things that are happening.