Everybody gets older because it is impossible to stop the aging process completely with the current level of science. There are three parts to aging: chronological age, biological age, and psychological. Chronological age is merely a representation of the passage of time, with every year adding another number to a person’s age. Of course, chronological age is significant in terms of health because it often indicates when age-related health issues arrive. Biological age is the actual aging process that goes on within the body, and lifestyle choices influence the speed at which the biological process progresses. Psychological age is the level of maturity within each individual, because some people are more mature within their own minds compared to their physical bodies while others are the opposite. The average person will chronologically age at the same rate while their biologicaland psychological aspects will begin to slow down and weaken with time. The average life expectancy of a United States citizen is higher than it was a long time ago by thirty to forty years. The person who reached the oldest documented age was 122-years-old. This number does vary based on numerous individual factors: heredity, lifestyle, environment and exposure to toxins, and health care.1 Aging is often associated with normal and expected deterioration of bodily functions, such as eyesight, hearing, strength, stamina, and memory. Eyesight is lost to a condition known as presbyopia where the lenses of the eyes become stiff, making it more difficult for eyes to refocus for distance. Cataracts, the risks of which are increased by the eyes’ exposure to sunlight, cloud the eyes and could lead to blindness.2 Presbycusis is the term for hearing loss caused by a decreasing amount of sensory receptors in the inner ear. Men tend to lose more of their hearing compared to women. Age naturally decreases muscle mass and endurance in the body.3 Some memory loss is normal because as the processing of tasks slows down so, too, does the ability to multitask. It is when a greater amount of loss occurs that causes concern. Alzheimer’s is a disease that increases the rate of cognitive deficits, often at an earlier age. A patient with a family history of Alzheimer’s who has noticed more memory loss should consult a doctor. This is not a normal part of aging.4
Learning to Accept Your Age
Because the aging process is a normal part of life, acceptance is very important. As a society, people need to not treat aging as a disease or affliction. It is not good for the self-esteem and health of the older generation and a lot of money is put into hiding the elderly away. These same older people turn to expensive surgeries in the hope that they can appear young and prolong the time it takes for their age to be discovered. A negative outlook on aging can actually translate to a negative effect on memory, proven when elderly Chinese, who have the most positive and active image of aging, outperformed even younger Americans in a series of memory tests. Aging should not be looked down on as the stereotypical decline, or else that is what it becomes.5
Ways to Combat the Aging Process
Other than a better state of mind, there are a few voluntary decisions that can be made to improve wellness in old age. Regular physical activity is great for both the mind and the body. Why move around at all? Exercise combats long term weakness, disease, and stress. A gym is not required to perform physical activity; little decisions like choosing to walk or take the stairs make a difference. Swimming and daily stretches are great activities because almost anyone can perform them.6 Quitting smoking is also beneficial for health because addiction is a negative aspect of life and cigarettes have numerous components which can seriously hurt the body. Diet is another factor in a healthy life. It is important to eat foods that are high in fiber while limiting those that are high in fat.7 Oats are an example of good, complex carbohydrates that are also low-glycemic. Refined breads, rice, and pasta are examples of high-glycemic foods. Oranges are both hydrating, because they contain water, and they are a great source of vitamin C. Fruits and vegetables in general are going to be key factors in a healthy diet. Avocados are a good, healthy kind of fat that aid in the absorption of other vitamins and nutrients.8 Brussels sprouts contain vitamins A and C. Vitamin A helps prevent sun damage in addition to other protection, such as sunscreen and a hat. Resveratrol in grapes also “may fight the effects of UV light and sun damage”.9 There are so many ways to combat poor health in later years while also gaining a better outlook of the whole aging process.
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