What happens when getting old

What happens when we get old didn’t really interest me until I did.  “Getting Old is not for sissies” is a joke we make in the food court of the nearest mall.  That is where all the retired people, who can still get out of their homes, go to meet and greet. However, I am interested in what specialists in geriatrics have to say on the subject, since I’m 74 and starting to feel my age.  You will note several underlined words.  They will take you to articles about those topics.

What is considered Getting Old nowadays?

By 2030, the number of Americans age 65 and over has been projected to reach about 71.5 million, nearly 10 million of whom will be 85 and up. The good news is that many seniors report better health, greater wealth, and higher levels of education than seniors in past decades.Thus, what happens when getting old is something that has become an interest of scientists because there are so many of us. Research on how to stay active and sharp and how to grow wiser is proliferating—it’s up to us to act on the information now.

What happens when getting old

What is happening to your body as it’s getting old?

The human body is made up of fat, lean tissue (muscles and organs), bones, and water. After age 30, people tend to lose lean tissue. Your muscles, liver, kidney, and other organs may lose some of their cells. This process of muscle loss is called atrophy. Bones may lose some of their minerals and become less dense (a condition called osteopenia in the early stages and osteoporosis in the later stages). Tissue loss reduces the amount of water in your body.

The amount of body fat goes up steadily after age 30. Older people may have almost one third more fat compared to when they were younger. Fat tissue builds up toward the center of the body, including around the internal organs. However, the layer of fat under the skin gets smaller.

Why do I get shorter?

The tendency to become shorter occurs among all races and both sexes. Height loss is related to aging changes in the bones, muscles, and joints. People typically lose almost one-half inch (about 1 centimeter) every 10 years after age 40. Height loss is even more rapid after age 70. You may lose a total of 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 centimeters) in height as you age. You can help prevent height loss by following a healthy diet, staying physically active, and preventing and treating bone loss.

Less leg muscles and stiffer joints can make moving around harder. Excess body fat and changes in body shape can affect your balance. These body changes can make falls more likely.

Weight differences between men and women

Changes in total body weight vary for men and woman. Men often gain weight until about age 55, and then begin to lose weight later in life. This may be related to a drop in the male sex hormone testosterone. Women usually gain weight until age 65, and then begin to lose weight. Weight loss later in life occurs partly because fat replaces lean muscle tissue, and fat weighs less than muscle. Diet and exercise habits can play a large role in a person’s weight changes over their lifetime.

Lifestyle changes that make a difference, a Real Difference!

Your lifestyle choices affect how quickly the aging process takes place. Some things you can do to reduce age-related body changes are:

  • Get regular exercise.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and the right amounts of healthy fats.
  • Limit your alcohol use.
  • Avoid tobacco products and illicit drugs.

    This information came from information put on the Internet by:

    Shah K, Villareal DT. Obesity. In: Fillit HM, Rockword K, Young J, eds. Brocklehurst’s Textbook of Geriatric Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 80.

    Walston JD. Common clinical sequelae of aging. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman’s Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 25.

    Put out by Medline Plus, US National Library of Medicine

How old is now normal?

Mark E. Williams, MD. Says this about aging in – (The Demography of Aging.)A baby girl born today in parts of America, Europe, and the Pacific Rim has a better than 50-50 chance of living beyond the age of 80. To put this startling fact in context, during the Bronze Age (approximately 3000 BC), the average life expectancy was 18. In the days of the Roman Empire, it had risen to about 35. In early 20th-century America, the average life expectancy at birth was only 47. It took mankind 19 centuries to increase the lifespan by 12 years (from 35 to 47). That’s about three days of increased life expectancy each year over two millennia. In the last 100 years the average life expectancy at birth has nearly doubled from 47 to 80.

Great, we get to to know what happens when we get old

For the first time in human history, most of us can realistically expect to live into old age. Right now you have a 50-50 chance of living to the age of 80. If you are already 80, you have a 50-50 chance of reaching 90. Today people usually live well into their 70s and 80s, and before long, some cultures will have more than 25 percent of their population who are over age 65.

So old age, once the privilege of the very few, has become the modern destiny for each of us. This is a monumental achievement of the 20th century that ranks with placing a man on the moon, the advances in telecommunication, splitting the atom, and unraveling our DNA. But where is the celebration? No one seems to appreciate this truly historic human accomplishment of longer life expectancy.

Different Life Style changes can make some of those years really fun!

Not to surprising, getting old is not as easy for people who are retired.  The 40, 40, 40 plan is not working as well as it used to.  Then, you worked 40 years, 40 hours a week, and then lived on 40% of what you used to make.  That was what Social Security was supposed to help us achieve.  I have found that I can do one of the things that is mentioned in much of the literature about Neuroplasticity (Which means how well your brain ages).

I have started an Online Marketing business, which keeps me up-to-date on the newest technology as well as making it possible to talk with my grandchildren on Skype as often as we want to.  The Online Marketing business is helping me supplement my income.  Because, even though I was a teacher, the cost of living creeps up every year.  And 40% of what I made is just not enough anymore.  If you want to learn how to do  the same, to keep pocket change available, Go Here 

Other ways to keep your brain and body active

Scientists have found that keep your brain active by learning new things is the best way to stave off memory problems.  By creating new neural pathways, you can make it easier to remember things, because there are more pathways to get there.  This is something else I do.  I actually learned how to teach dancing even after I retired.  I was in the Senior Olympics in Dancing in 2005 and won two Gold Medals.

This is what I discovered when I was 48 and had a balance problem. One very neat way to keep your brain active is to start learning something like dancing.  It is visual learning, auditory learning and balance training all in one.  For people who don’t think they can actually “Hustle” anymore, Square Dancing is ideal.  You only shuffle your feet, but you are learning to hear the caller and perform a movement.  It is very safe and quite a nice way to meet people of about your same age.  My HMO did a whole article on how Square Dancing was the best and easiest way to keep your body active and have fun at the same time.

Another interesting Statistic

Another statistic that is relevant to our awareness of aging is the death rate. The death rate is one per person (it has remained remarkably constant for millennia). Each of us has a realistic chance of reaching 85, but living indefinitely is not an option. The implication of our inevitable mortality is that the nature of our journey becomes more important than its length. And the good news is that a wealth of scientific evidence shows that we can significantly influence the quality and possibly the rate of our aging. If this were not the case, there would be no secrets of aging, and we would be left to the winds of fate.

The Big Lesson From Life Course Epidemiology

Which is another way of saying they looking at what happens when we get old

Life Course Epidemiology is the study of the factors that influence our longevity. Several epidemiological studies have convincingly shown that 75 percent of our mortal hazard relates directly to our environment. Moreover, the observation appears to be culturally insensitive. A key environmental feature is socioeconomic status (SES) — more specifically, the income gap.

However it is not just the difference between the wealthiest and poorest members of a society that seems to matter, but also how rich or poor you are relative to others around youEducation is clearly linked to SES.

Another critical factor is job satisfaction. If one’s boss is a martinet, and our work environment is stressful, our longevity is compromised no matter how much money we make. For example, several studies document that being laid off or experiencing loss of job security is associated with increased mortality, often from heart disease.

Living with a loving partner extends our longevity. Caring for a pet also confers a salutary effect.

Negative Lifestyles that make a difference.

Moderate regular exercise and a healthy diet tend to slow aging changes. On the other hand, smoking accelerates aging of the skin, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and bone. Those I knew, but I also found out:  Excessive noise affects the ears; ultraviolet light ages the eyes and skin; excessive dietary protein seems to increase the aging of the kidney.

Preventive Health Care

Wait a minute, you may be thinking. What about preventive health care, disease risk factor modification, or my genetic endowment? After all, Aunt Mary lived to 103. To inform us we have a vast body of literature on proximate-cause epidemiology.

Proximate cause epidemiology is the study of causes of death and the risk factors for those causes. Cardiovascular disease is an example that has been extensively studied, with published risk factors such hypertension, diabetes mellitus, elevated serum lipids, smoking, family history, and others.

Modifying these risk factors may reduce our likelihood of dying from heart disease (probably not by very much), but has little or no effect on mortal hazard. In other words, we may be able to change the likely cause of our death without meaningfully lengthening our lives.

It is not a major worry of mine what my death certificate will ultimately read as my primary cause of death. What I want to have happen when I get old is to live by this motto. One’s concern is to have a meaningful life as long as it lasts. As stated by British humanist E. M. Forster, “We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned to have the life that is waiting for us.”

Much ado about the trivial

A lot of risk factor modification is much ado about the trivial. If we carefully examine the mountains of evidence, it becomes clear that the impacts are on the order of absolute reductions in deaths of one half to two percent. In other words, 50 to 200 people need to be treated over extended periods of time (a decade or so) to prevent one premature death (that otherwise would not have occurred).

Realistically, an intervention, such as aggressively treating high blood pressure, might optimistically reduce an otherwise normal individual’s risk of a bad outcome, such as a stroke or heart attack, from five percent to three percent: a two-percent reduction over five to ten years.

I’m glad I learned this bit of knowledge. 

How people can make something sound better than it actually is.

It is easy to be confused about risk factor modification by what we read or hear in social media. Absolute risk reduction — the difference between our baseline risk and the reduced risk with the intervention — is what really matters. But clinical studies and the media frequently trumpet relative risk reduction, which is the percentage your risk has been reduced.

If the example above the relative risk reduction would be a 40-percent drop in the risk from 5 to 3 percent. Which sounds more convincing, “We can reduce your risk of a stroke or heart attack by 40 percent,” or “We can lower your absolute risk of a stroke or heart attack by 2 percent (or 1 in 50)?” Both statements are mathematically equivalent.

Modern Preventive Health Care

The target of modern preventive health care is to extend longevity by reducing premature death, which certainly seems reasonable in very young populations with many decades of remaining life.

However, defining premature death becomes increasingly problematic the older we become and ultimately misses the point, because the death rate is still one per person.

To me, at some phase of life, the target of prevention needs to shift from maximizing longevity to maintaining function and minimizing dependency.

As we live longer and better with the compression of our disability to the later stages of life, we should focus on those factors that threaten our independence, such as problems of vision, hearing, mobility, and memory loss. Dr. Williams tells his very elderly patients that his goal is to keep each of them smiling and happy for as long as possible. So far, no one has voiced a different objective.