Face it; we’re all going to be old someday. Nothing we can do to prevent aging. But there are ways to get there in halfway decent condition. Barring catastrophic health issues or disease, we can take charge of our aging process, to a certain degree.
Sure, major organs and systems show signs of wearing out when we hit a certain age. It seems inevitable that people in their 40’s will start developing some degree of vision degeneration, but don’t let that slow you down. The same goes for teeth. Get regular checkups, maintain good vision and dental health and don’t allow small problems to grow into big problems. Get glasses or dentures if you have to. Don’t put it off until it’s too late to begin treatments or measures that will enable you to enjoy the lifestyles and foods you always have.
Depending on how well we took care of our skin when we were younger, wrinkles start sprouting when we hit our 40’s also. The ‘jowl’ appears, as do sagging jaw lines and other body parts. Gravity is no longer our friend, it’s our foe. You can slow down the onset of gravity with healthy diets and daily exercise. Weight bearing exercises are the best thing that people over 40 can do to maintain healthy muscle mass and prevent osteoporosis. Remember the Kegel exercises you did when you were pregnant? Well, they’re not just for pregnant women. Doing Kegel exercises regularly will help keep abdominal floor and urinary tract muscles in good working condition, which can help prevent urinary incontinence as we grow older.
As we age, body systems begin to fail and weaken. Medications may be prescribed to deal with many symptoms and to prevent diseases or conditions from growing worse. It’s also wise to remember however, that our bodies may react differently to medications as we age. One of the most difficult aspects of aging is the amount and combinations of medications that doctors prescribe for various ailments. Always make sure, yourself if you have to, that the medications various physicians prescribe for you are compatible. Many medications don’t work or can cause side effects when taken in conjunction with others. Ask the pharmacist if you don’t want to ask your doctor. It’s your right to know.
Remember that elderly people metabolize medications differently and may suddenly begin to cause side effects that were never apparent before. Here are some major factors to remember about medications as you age:
1) If you or someone you know is on the following medications, watch for these signs and symptoms of side effects.
a. Alprazolam can cause memory problems.
b. Amitriptyline can cause irregular heart rhythm, blurred vision and difficulty urinating.
c. Chlordiazepoxide can cause drowsiness and confusion.
d. Diazepam also causes drowsiness and confusion.
e. Disopyramide can lead to heart failure, blurred vision, and difficulty urinating.
f. Doxepin can cause irregular heart rhythm, blurred vision and difficulty urinating.
g. Indomethacin can cause dizziness and confusion.
h. Meperidine can cause confusion and seizures.
i. Methocarbamol can lead to blurred vision and difficulty urinating.
j. Propoxyphene can cause confusion and drowsiness.
The most important aspect of aging successfully is to stay connected to life, to friends, to activities. It’s a well-known fact that people who learn new things, socialize and try to remain active seem to live healthier, happier lives.
Depression in seniors is more than just a case of the blues and is as common in seniors as in younger people. Medical conditions can lead many to feel worthless and depressed. Take the time, even if you have to force yourself, to socialize and share feelings with others.
Believe it or not, sexuality doesn’t end at 60, or 70, or even 80. Many senior citizens enjoy satisfying sexual relationships. Don’t scoff. You’ll be there someday. Still, don’t be alarmed if sexual desire wanes. Companionship and closeness are still one of the best ways for seniors to feel needed, wanted and desired.
Aging doesn’t have to be the end of the line. Arm yourself with knowledge before you reach those alarming birthdays and remember the old adage: You’re as young as you feel. A good mental outlook is half the battle.