Healing and aging
The aging process changes both the body and the mind. Many aging changes are physiological in nature, as the body begins to degenerate and break down. Along with these physical changes, emotional variations can also occur. Declining health is a common issue with aging, with many illnesses and diseases plaguing the elderly population. It’s possible to take steps to maintain good health as long as possible by remaining active and paying attention to physical symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease is a prevalent illness among the elderly. This degenerative brain disease results in the death of brain cells, which actually leads to profound shrinkage of the brain.
Balance issues and falls are a frequent occurrence for elderly people. Falls can be an indication that an elderly person’s health is declining. Balance issues are frequent in the elderly population, in association with common illnesses such as glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetes. Cardiac problems and inner ear issues can also cause problems with balance. Hip fractures are a common result of falls, with lengthy hospitalizations and declining health occurring thereafter.
Vision changes as people age. It’s typical for people to have trouble focusing on close items, and sometimes, perceiving colours becomes difficult. More serious issues such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts can occur, however. Macular degeneration is a progressive illness that reduces vision significantly.
Illness may interfere with overall health during advancing age. As the body ages, the cardiovascular system does not work as efficiently as it did during youth. With good health, this gradual decline should not cause issues. However, if an elderly person has a heart issue, such as coronary artery disease, more serious problems can occur. It’s common for people to develop cardiovascular disease as they get older.
Remaining active is important for staying healthy into old age. Active living can include daily walks, bicycle rides, working in the yard, and spending time outdoors. Daily activity not only benefits the body, but it also benefits emotional health through a sense of well-being. Active senior citizens can maintain their independence for a longer time while enjoying social contact with others in their daily lives. Older people can also benefit cognitively from daily activity due to improvements in sleep patterns and concentration. Eating well with adequate nutrition is another way that the elderly can preserve their health as they age.
Preparation for aging can help with the process. Although many health problems are common with advancing age, people can take specific steps to preserve health and stay active. Getting older does not have to involve rapidly declining health, sadness, and isolation. Instead, older people can purposefully move forward to age successfully, enjoying retirement and a redirection away from the energetic pursuits of youth.
Dr. Rosmond Adams, MD is a medical doctor and a public health specialist with training in bioethics and ethical issues in medicine, the life sciences and research. He is a lecturer of medical ethics.
He is the Head of Health Information, Communicable Disease and Emergency Response at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). He is also a member of the World Health Organization Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of NCDs.
(The views expressed here are not written on behalf of CARPHA nor the WHO). You may contact him at [email protected]