You’re never too old to live healthy

Aged man stretching

Normal age-related decline affects most of our body’s organs and systems. How and when this happens is different for each of us. It depends on many factors, including our genes, lifestyle, and health history. “Normal” Aging procedure include:

Brain - Brain structure changes with age, the effects of which are unclear. Healthy older people might notice some mild changes, such as needing new information repeated or more time to learn something new.

Heart and arteries - The heart muscle thickens, and arteries tend to stiffen with age. This makes it harder for the heart to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. It also becomes harder for the body to take out the oxygen from the blood.

Lungs - The amount of air the lungs can breathe in and out can decrease with age, causing shortness of breath while working hard or during brisk activities.

Kidneys - Over time, the kidneys don’t work as well at removing waste from the blood.

Bladder - With age, the bladder cannot hold as much urine.

Body fat - Levels of body fat stay about the same from middle age until late life when body weight tends to decline. Older people tend to lose both muscle and body fat. Fat also shifts from just beneath the skin to deeper organs. Skin - The skin thins and loses elasticity as it ages, leading to wrinkles and sags. Loss of sweat and oil glands can lead to dry and flaky skin. Spots appear on the sun-damaged skin.

Hair - Hair often grays and becomes brittle. Some women also notice hair loss or thinning. Muscles - Without physical activity, muscle mass declines up to 22 percent in women between ages 30 and 70, affecting strength, flexibility, and balance.

Bones - the Bone mineral is removed and replaced throughout life. Beginning in the 40s, the bone may be lost faster than it can be replaced. Bone loss speeds up even more after menopause. Over time, bones can weaken and become brittle. Eyes - In midlife, it can become harder to focus on close-up items, such as a book. From 50 on, glare tends to interfere more with vision, and seeing in low-light and detecting moving objects becomes more and more difficult. Seeing detail can become a challenge in the 70s.

Ears - Higher pitched sounds become more difficult to hear with age. Understanding speech, especially if there is background noise, can be a problem, even for older adults with good hearing.

Reproductive system - Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. She no longer has periods and she cannot become pregnant.

Hormones - Hormones are chemical messengers that control the function of many organs and tissues. As we age, our bodies make less of certain hormones, such as estrogen and growth hormone, and more of others, such as parathyroid hormone (PHT). Estrogen and PHT affect bone health. Researchers are studying the effect of this change on aging.

Immune system - The organs and cells of the immune system work throughout the body to protect it from infection. With age, these cells become less active, making the body less able to defend against bacteria and viruses. Researchers think that this system might play an important role in the aging process.

Adopting healthy behaviors—even later in life—can help prevent, delay, and control disease. In fact, research has shown that a healthy lifestyle matters more than your genes in helping you to avoid poor health as you age. A healthy lifestyle can protect you from frailty, too. Preventing health problems also saves money. The cost of providing health care for an older woman is 3 to 5 times greater than the cost for someone younger than 65 in America. So why wait?

Take these steps to boost your physical health and self-esteem:

Get moving 

By age 75, about 1 in 2 women do not engage in any physical activity. But physical activity can help people of all ages—even those with serious health problems. For instance, muscle-building physical activity can help people with heart failure in ways that medicine cannot. Talk to your doctor about safe ways for you to become active.

Eat healthy food 

Nutrient-rich foods are vital to our health as we age.

Quit smoking 

If you have smoked for many years, you might think it’s too late for you to quit—that the damage is done. But quitting has immediate health benefits even for lifelong smokers and people with smoking-related diseases. For instance, smokers have twice the risk of dying of heart disease as nonsmokers. But this risk begins to drop after quitting. After 15 years of not smoking, past smokers’ risk of heart disease is similar to those who have never smoked.

See your doctor regularly for health screenings and vaccines 

Tell your doctor about any health changes you notice. Also, tell your doctor if you feel sad, lonely, or like you don’t have the energy or interest in doing things you once enjoyed.

Be safe when drinking alcohol 

The body responds differently to alcohol with age. Even a small amount can impair judgment, coordination, and reaction time. And many medicines do not mix well with alcohol. Talk to your doctor about your alcohol use and the medicines you are taking.

Stay connected 

You can protect yourself from isolation and depression by interacting with others. Get involved with a volunteer, hobby, or special interest group. Local senior centers offer social programs. Your local Area Agency on Aging can help you connect with outreach programs if you are homebound.

Consumer Alert—Don’t Be a Victim of Health Scams Living with chronic health problems can be hard. You might be willing to try just about anything to feel better—including unproven remedies that promise a quick or painless cure. Be smart and talk to your doctor before buying a product that sounds too good to be true. Quacks— people who sell unproven remedies— target older people. Those who fall victim to their scams waste money and put their health at risk.

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