What it is like to grow old

What it is like to grow old

As we get older our bodies are less able to renew and regenerate resulting in weakening and deteriorating health. As a result, seniors are more prone to disease, syndromes, and sickness than younger adults. Of the roughly 150,000 people who die each day across the world, about two thirds die of age-related causes.


As people age their skin loses elasticity, becomes drier, and wrinkled. Their hair becomes thinner and more grey. Hearing declines and eyesight diminishes. Their vocal chords weaken and vibrate more slowly, resulting in a weakened, husky voice. Sexual drive decreases and they experience more troubled sleep. With age, taste buds become less effective, food becomes less appealing, and people experience difficulty swallowing. This can lead to less food consumption and weight loss. Older people experience more digestive disorders (constipation, and bleeding) which limit their ability to absorb nutrition. Many older people may also experience urinary incontinence.


Also as we age, our lungs don’t expand as well and our hearts become less efficient resulting in a loss of stamina due to a decrease in oxygen inhalation. But it isn’t only the inner systems that weaken as we age, bones begin to lose their density causing older people to adopt a stooped posture and making them more susceptible to bone and joint diseases. In many cases older people experience chronic conditions such as hypertension, arthritis, and heart disease.


Combined with physical ailments, seniors are also more susceptible to emotional disorders. They have an increased risk of depression which results in the over 65 population having the highest suicide rate. The most prevalent mental disorder associated with aging is dementia, a term used to describe a broad syndrome of brain diseases which cause people to progressively lose their ability to think and reason clearly. Since it is a degenerative neurological disease it eventually impacts on a person’s physical being as well, including problems with balance, mobility, continence and swallowing. Nearly half of all people over the age of 85 display some form of dementia.      


In Australia, one in ten people over 65 have dementia compared to three in ten over the age of 85. There are currently around 350,000 Australians living with dementia and this number is expected to increase to 900,000 by 2050. Every week approximately 1,800 people in Australia are newly diagnosed with dementia, which equates to a new diagnosis every six minutes.


Follow Chris Nothling:

Aged Care Financial Adviser

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