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Aging is Inevitable
 
By : Erica Goodstone, Ph.D.
 

Although aging is inevitable, how we look, feel and cope as we get older, is not. Aging affects each of us at different rates and in different ways. Even within the same individual, each organ and organ system ages differently, influenced by genetics, environment, lifestyle, attitudes, social networks, spiritual connections, and overall health and well being.

In infancy and childhood, we can be fairly accurate in predicting physical growth and development at different ages and stages. But as we age, there is no uniform timetable. Chronological age is notAging is Inevitable

How Do You Know When You Are Old?

Stereotypical Signs of Aging

• You get dizzy when you stand up or bend over
• Your joints and muscles ache all the time
• Your skin is itchy, spotty, wrinkled and dry
• Your body fluctuates between constipation and diarrhea
• You have poor muscle tone, tire easily, and often feel weak
• You are often irritable, grouchy, depressed and generally unhappy
• You can't remember what you did an hour ago
• You've stopped learning or trying new things

The above symptoms are generally considered to be inevitable effects of aging, but these are actually signs of lifestyle deficiencies, injury, and disease.

Physiologic Changes and Aging

Past research about aging has focused on patients suffering from illness and disability, observed in doctors' offices, clinics or hospital settings. What we have believed about aging, it seems, has been a reflection of the effects of disease process and unhealthy lifestyle. Studies are only beginning to focus on active seniors and the normal aging process.

• Aging is NOT Disease

Physiologic changes that occur with aging do not necessarily cause disability. Aging does not inevitably lead to declining levels of cardiac functioning, bone density, muscular strength, cognitive ability and memory, sexual desire and activity, physical and social functioning, nor does aging insure rising levels of blood pressure, cholesterol and anemia. But aging does decrease the body's ability to withstand and respond to stress. As we age, we are less able to regulate pulse rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption, blood glucose, serum sodium, and blood ph levels under stress. Aging leads to greater difficulty reacting to injury and the probability that the stress of injury will lead to acute or chronic illness over time.

• One Percent Rule

From age 30 onward, most organ systems lose roughly one percent of their functioning each year. The percent of loss does not increase as we age.

• Body Organs Age Differently

The physiologic state for any organ in our body is affected by the rate of change that organ has experienced multiplied by the number of years that change has occurred. As we age, changes in one organ does not predict changes in other organs.

• Dementia is NOT Part of Normal Aging

Memory decline with age is common, but does not inevitably lead to dementia which is an illness. Dementia-type symptoms include hearing loss, confusion or disorientation, difficulty performing simple tasks and making every day decisions, as well as changes in mood and loss of interest in life activities.

* Remaining Healthy is Often a Lifestyle Choice

Scientists and wellness experts alike are discovering that we are more than our genetic makeup. We do actually influence our own aging processes through diet, exercise, stress management, rest, sleep, social activity, positive mental thought and spiritual connection. Remaining healthy is often just a lifestyle choice and the choice is yours.