Aging Happens to All of Us

Aging Happens to All of Us

As people age many changes occur. Look at some of your baby pictures and look into a mirror. Have you changed? Of course you have. You have aged.

Aging is a process of growth. As we grow our skin changes and becomes more wrinkled and our hair may become more gray. Eyesight and hearing may diminish and glasses or hearing devices may be needed.

Aging bones gradually lose their calcium, become weakened and fracture easily. This loss is inevitable. It may be slowed by increasing physical activity and eating foods rich in calcium (for example dairy products, sardines, salmon and raw vegetables) but it can’t be stopped.

Frequently, an older person may be very sensitive to temperature because of circulation problems, loss of body fat and other changes. For example, your older relative may ask for a sweater because they are cold and you could be roasting.

Usually, weight generally decreases due to muscle loss. Body fat shifts to the lower body and hips. This effects how an older person functions.

Most People Age Well

Most older people remain independent in their later years. It is only when a major health event occurs such as a stroke, heart attack or memory loss that people of any age become more dependent for their care. Most older persons lead active and healthy lives.

Age and Attitude Are Different

Age and attitude are quite different. Our chronological age (our age as measured from date if birth to present) is often quite different from the age we feel inside. Has anyone ever said to you, "Act your age?" What does that mean? You already asked your older relative how old they were. Now ask how old they feel inside. Do you get a different answer? Do the same with a variety of people. Ask your parents how old they are and how old they feel. You will likely get two different answers.

It’s hard to imagine what it is like to get old when you are young. Aging is a very gradual process. If you are aware of the physical difficulties some older people have you may be more sensitive to that person’s special needs. This activity is a lot of fun while at the same time you’ll become aware of what it feels like to age.

Age Simulation Techniques

Arthritis/Stiff Joints: Wrap two elastic bandages (Ace Bandages) around one knee firmly (but not too tightly) and try walking. Wrap the bandages around elbows and try to put on a coat or drink something. Put on a pair of bulky gloves and try to button a shirt.

Stroke or Paralysis: Write with the opposite hand you would normally use. If right-handed, use your left. If left-handed, use your right. Tape a yardstick on the outside of one leg. Securely tape it every six inches. Walk around the room or try walking up and down stairs. (Make sure you have a partner to assist you). Do you feel awkward?

Hearing Impairment: Place a cotton ball in each exterior ear canal and then put on earmuffs. Try talking to someone. Did you ask them to repeat what they were saying? Turn television volume down to the lowest level. Sit at the opposite end of the room and listen to your favorite program. Hard work, isn’t it?

Visual Impairments: Smear petroleum jelly over swim goggles or old glasses. Put them on and try to read a book or watch TV. Do your eyes feel strained? Adjust your TV so it is slightly out of focus. See how long you can watch before you become irritated.

Loss of Sense of Smell: Clamp your nose shut between the thumb and index finger. Now eat an apple or snack while holding your nose. How does it taste?

Loss of Sense of Touch: Put on a pair of bulky gloves or cover your hand with a sandwich bag and a rubber band. Tie a knot in a piece of thread or try to tie your shoes. It’s not very easy, is it?

You’re Still Yourself As You Age

It’s hard to imagine that in 60 years you will be elderly. Your skin will be wrinkled and your hair grey. You may have trouble hearing, your hands may not be steady and you may walk slower than you do now.Yet although you may look older you may not feel old at all.

Throughout your life you will be the same person inside that you are now. If you’re a friendly, outgoing person, chances are you’ll be that way when you’re older. Likewise, if you prefer being alone now, you’ll probably like to be alone as you age. If you like rock and roll music now, chances are you’ll like it when you are older.

Sources: New York State Office for the Aging, Administration for Aging

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