Aging-What’s Normal? What’s not?
Getting old is not so bad. Getting old should be everyone’s goal. The other choice is death. Do you ever wonder what is normal? Can you slow down the process? Aging is inevitable but we can maintain our health at any age. As we age fatigue, weight loss, hearing loss, high blood pressure, memory loss, sleeping problems, sexual dysfunction and vision problems are a few of the major age related problems that affect us as we age.
Our brain undergoes changes as we age that can have an effect on our memory or thinking skills. As we age we may forget where we put our car keys that is normal. If we forget the purpose of our keys that is not normal.
• What you can do:
• Exercise everyday for 30 minutes or more. Exercise will increases your blood flow to your whole body. This includes your brain. Better brain function reduces stress and depression. These factors will affect memory.
• Eat a healthy diet. We should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. We should also choose low-fat protein. This would include fish, lean meat and skinless poultry.
• Good mental active will help sustain your memory and thinking skills. Reading, playing word games, taking up new hobbies, taking a new class or learning to play an instrument.
• Increase your social interaction. This can help to ward off depression and stress. Volunteer at a local school or nonprofit. You can also spend more time with your family and friends.
• Talk to your doctor about any changes in your memory.
Vision and hearing
As we age, we start to have difficulty focusing on objects that are close up or fine print. We can also become more sensitive to light. Aging can also affect the lens of our eyes, causing cataracts.
Our hearing can also start to diminish as we age. As we age hearing in high frequencies become difficult. We can also loose the ability to follow a conversation in a crowded room.
What you can do:
• Get regular checkups once a year. Follow your doctor’s advice about glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids and other corrective devices.
Take precautions. Wear sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat when you’re outdoors all year. Use earplugs when you’re around loud machinery, at concerts and other places where you are near loud noises.
Our sexual needs and performance can change. Illness, medication and stress can affect your ability to enjoy sex. Vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable for women and men. Impotence can become a concern for older men. For men it can take longer to get an erection and maintain it. For some men the erection may not be as firm as it used to be.
What you can do:
• Talk to your partner about your needs and concerns. Have physical intimacy without intercourse. Experimenting with different sexual activities can be exciting too.
• Exercise everyday. Exercise improves the release of sexual hormones, improves cardiovascular health, lifts your mood and improves your self-image.
• Talk to your doctor. Make sure there are no underlining causes.
• Follow your doctor’s plan.
High blood pressure and Weight loss
As we get older our bones and muscles tend to shrink in size and density. This weakening will make you more susceptible to bone fracture and muscle injuries. Our heart is a muscle. We also find that as our muscle and bone weaken so does our heart. You might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength, endurance and flexibility. This weakening can affect your coordination, stability and balance.
What you can do:
Strengthening muscles, tendons and ligaments with resistance exercise will make you stronger, help support the skeletal system and joints. Stronger muscles, tendons and ligaments can reduce your risk of having joint problems and help existing joint problems. You should talk with your doctor before you start because depending on what the joint problem, resistance training may aggravate it.
Fatigue can be common as we age, but it can be easily corrected. Many cases of tiredness are due to stress, not enough sleep, poor diet and other lifestyle factors. Medical conditions can also cause fatigue. Low testosterone and sleep apnea can also cause fatigue in men. Too little hemoglobin or not enough red blood cells can cause you to feel tired or weak. Pale skin, shortness of breath, dizziness, or headaches are also signs of fatigue. Iron deficiency alone, even without anemia can cause of chronic fatigue.
What you can do:
Eat often to beat tiredness
Get more sleep
Reduce your stress levels
Plan your day
Cut down on the caffeine
Drink less alcohol
Drink more water
Plan balanced meals
Get regular check ups
The amount of sleep needed each night varies among people. Each person needs a particular amount of sleep in order to be fully alert throughout the day. Research has shown that when healthy adults are allowed to sleep unrestricted, the average time slept is 8 to 9 hours.
What you can do:
1. Set a time to go to sleep and waking up.
2. Avoid anything mentally and physically stimulating just before you go to bed.
3. Try Sex.
4. Don’t drink alcohol.
4. Keep your bedroom for sleeping and sex.
5. Develop a pattern for going to sleep.
6. Create a good sleeping environment.
7. Keep your mind off of stressful thoughts.
8. Don’t stay in bed if your not sleeping.
9. Find out how many sleep hours you need.
10. Don’t go to bed to early.
11. Avoid too many naps.
12. Take a bath two hours before bed.
13. Don’t obsess about sleep.
14. To eat or not to eat!
15. Give yourself “permission” to go to bed.
16. Create a restful place to sleep. Sleep in a cool, dark room that is free from noises that may disturb your sleep.
17. Sleep on a comfortable, supportive mattress and foundation. It’s difficult to sleep on a bed that’s too small, too soft, too hard, or too old.
18. Exercise regularly.
19. Cut down on stimulants. Consuming stimulants, such as caffeine, in the evening can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
20. Don’t smoke. Smokers take longer to fall asleep and wake up more often during the night.
A healthy lifestyle will help us feel better as we age. A healthy lifestyle can help us to avoid or repair the damage caused by aging. You can’t stop the aging process, but you can make choices that improve your ability to maintain an active life, to do the things you enjoy, and to spend time with loved ones. With a few changes we can be better even into our 80s and 90s. We won’t live forever but we can enjoy the life we live.
Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.
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