THE IMPACT OF AGING ON HEALTH
As we age our appearance changes and we tend to slow down, but that’s not all; a range of alterations also occur within the body, affecting all areas and body systems, having an impact on health. Starting at the core, our bones lose strength and leave us more vulnerable to fracture. Our muscle mass also decreases, slowing our metabolic rate and making weight gain more likely. Not only that, but our muscles are not as strong, so everyday tasks can become more difficult. On the outside our skin becomes thinner and loses elasticity, making it more delicate with bruising and tearing more likely; when it is damaged skin also takes longer to heal.
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Changes to the blood vessels reduce circulation leaving us more at risk of heart disease, stroke and dementia. Lung function also decreases making breathing more of an effort; changes in the lungs also make chest infections more likely. Immune function is also impaired allowing infections to take hold and cancerous cells to go unnoticed. The senses are reduced, with reduction in sight and hearing affecting our daily lives, and reduced smell and taste changing our experience at meal times. Our whole digestive system feels the effects of aging – chewing and swallowing can become more difficult; digestion and absorption of nutrients are not as efficient increasing the chance of nutritional deficiencies; the muscle tone of the bowel is also decreased, so constipation is more likely. Both the liver and kidneys reduce in size, so the processing and elimination of waste products is not as efficient.
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