The Nature of Ageing
Ageing is a natural and gradual process continuing up the life span. Ageing or getting older has physical, psychological, and social effects — not all are negative. With age comes experience and life skills.
By no means will all older people experience the same physical symptoms and certainly degenerative changes occur differently in all people, but there are some common changes that occur in older age. These physical changes include;
• Slower reactions.
• Vision changes, especially cataracts.
• Dehydration or poor nutrition. Poor nutrition can occur as older people often don’t drink or eat as they once did.
• Issues with the heart, such as cardiovascular disease.
• Bowels and urinary system can slow or stop working properly resulting in incontinence.
• Reduction in mobility.
• Bones can shrink and lose density, leaving them aching and/or susceptible to breaking easily.
• Lungs may be prone to pulmonary disease or obstruction.
• Hearing fades and/or loss.
• Osteoporosis and arthritis.
• Pressure ulcers especially if the person is immobile.
• Constipation due to dehydration and immobility.
• General poor memory, frailty and slowing down.
Psychological and Social Effects
Older age can be a great time, the family often expands with the arrival of grandchildren, retirement comes and it’s time to do the things we’ve always wanted to do but never had time for. Many older people sit on committees and boards within voluntary organisations and charities, they have much wisdom to share and can be extremely beneficial in these areas.
Travelling, if possible, is a great pastime in older age – no rushing for families or work commitments.
Gardening can also be a great source of outdoor activity and exercise.
There are so many clubs and groups for older people, some offering transport to and from the activity/group. This is an important way to keep socialising and connecting with people. Meeting people daily or weekly will only do good for your mental health. By maintaining a good support network, socialising regularly, and connecting with people at a similar stage of life; only positive results will prevail. Meeting people and having someone to chat with is essential to maintaining good mental health.
A healthy lifestyle is important at all ages. Eating a well balanced diet, taking regular exercise, connecting with family and friends, and minding your mental health can all lead to a more positive and happy healthy lifestyle.
One thing for sure, we all age. How we age is important, if we have a positive outlook, be optimistic, have good support systems in place and try to be social, fit and well, then we can be happy and healthy, enjoying this stage of life. Ageing is a gift denied to many.