Signs of Aging
Are you Aging Gracefully or Fighting the Signs of Aging?
People fight the signs of aging tooth and nail. For most of us, there is no such thing as growing old gracefully. We do whatever we can to hold onto our respective youths for as long as possible. We buy expensive creams, moisturizers, serums, and masks to spread onto our faces and necks. We darken, lighten, or highlight our hair to cover gray. We buy Spanx, corsets, girdles, and miracle bras to hold parts of our bodies back up after gravity has begun to work its wonders on our sagging bodies.
We drink green tea, eat acai berries, have a single glass of red wine with dinner to improve heart health and maximize the antioxidant qualities of what we put into our bodies. We do yoga, pilates, and swim laps to get exercise while reducing the impact on our aging joints. We have a hard time letting go of the youthful glow of our skin, the flexibility of our bodies, the lubrication of our joints, and being able to move around without the aches and pains of age.
Physical Signs of Aging
There is no doubt about the signs of aging physically. Our skin gets more lines and wrinkles. Our hair grays. Our breasts sag. We get thicker around the middle as our hair thins on top. We no longer get asked for proof of age to buy alcohol at a store or restaurant. But there is a lot more to aging than just the physical aspects of growing older.
There are many subtle changes to our bodies which are subtle signs of aging. One of the more severe signs of aging is memory lapse. We all get a bit more forgetful as we get older. Certain times in our lives we are more likely to forget things than at other times. For example, many women experience memory problems during pregnancy which is attributed to distraction. Many parents experience memory lapses later on as there is so much going on, things fall between the cracks. These memory lapses are of course usually temporary. But as we age, the actual number of brain cells actually decreases, which creates memory loss. In some people, the decrease in brain cells is compensated for an increase in connections between cells in some areas of the brain. For others, however, this increase in connections does not happen, and we notice a severely impaired memory.
Other physiological signs of aging occur with our other internal organs as we grow older. The kidneys become less effective at filtering waste from our bloodstream's. Digestion slows, and as we age, may experience more constipation. The heart becomes less effective and has to work harder to pump the same amount of blood. Aside from the internal organs, there are other physiological signs of aging as well. As we grow older, we produce less saliva. Less saliva production can lead to tooth decay, receding gums, and a darkening of the teeth. Teeth may become more brittle and break and crack more easily, which is more noticeable in people who haven't taken very good care of their teeth. Most people can keep their teeth all their lives, but they may become weakened, permanently stained, or unattractive. Another sign of aging is less quality sleep.
Other Symptoms of Aging
People who are older generally don't sleep as soundly, and require more time in bed to achieve the same number of hours of sleep total they need to get by. This usually happens as a result of decreased amounts of melatonin in the body, a chemical which helps aid in sleep. Another sure sign of aging is a slower metabolism. A slower metabolism in a lot of people is partially the result of slower digestion. This means that people who used to be able to lose weight quickly will have to struggle to lose weight if they are overweight. Many people notice themselves getting thicker around the middle as they age, even if they make no dietary or exercise changes.
Aging and Sexual Dysfunction
Other signs of aging includes sexual dysfunction. There are a variety of ways and reasons for a diminished sex life as we get older. Hormones, first of all, decrease after menopause, meaning women will have less sex drive than pre-menopause. The drop in estrogen levels contributes to vaginal dryness, which can cause pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse. The walls of the vagina also shrink and become less elastic, contributing to the discomfort during intercourse. Sexual dysfunction is not strictly a female problem as we age. Many men experience impotence. Statistics show one in four men experience impotence. Others, while they may not experience impotence, will take longer to get an erection, be unable to maintain an erection, and it may not be as firm as it used to be.
Learning to Age Gracefully
The average life span now is 77 years old. Compared to a century ago, we are living almost thirty years longer than we used to. We are becoming more aware of the signs of aging, and more able to treat some of them, while allowing others to naturally occur. Regardless, as long as you take good care of yourself, you should be able to grow old gracefully while showing as few of the signs of aging as possible.