An aging couple rides bicycles together in the park

Aging: What Happens When  You Get Older?

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As we all know aging is a natural part of life, but are you ever really ready to grow old? Old is described by Webster as a grayish or dusty color, showing the effects of time or use, advanced in years or age, or one of a specific age.

Being “old” can be defined by many different things, and we each have our own definition of what it is to be old. Of course, we may associate aging with gray hair, wrinkled skin, and the experience of aches in the joints. But what happens to your body when you get older? What effects does aging have on your physical and mental state?

Why Do We Get Old?

According to Healthline aging can be categorized into two groups which are, intrinsic aging and extrinsic aging.

Intrinsic Aging

Intrinsic aging is the aging process that occurs naturally due to biological factors. These internal factors can be linked to DNA as well as the cellular and biological processes that start to slow down as we get older. We have no control over this aging process.

Extrinsic Aging

Extrinsic aging is the aging process that occurs due to external factors. These external factors can be linked to environmental influences, tobacco use, alcohol use, exposure to ultraviolet rays, and any other factors that can be considered controllable.

What happens to your body as you age?

Aging can affect your skin, organs, metabolism, collagen, joints, muscles, and so much more. According to National Library of Medicine, our bodies are made up of complex organisms and as you get older, your body begins to slow down the process of producing cells.

The cells within our body have many different jobs and they reproduce while repairing those that are broken or damaged. As we age our cells are slower to reproduce and repair, which is the cause of aging.  According to a piece by Dr. Kris Verburgh on NOVOS, our bodies age due to the following factors:

  1. Decline of the Epigenome

    The epigenome determines which genes are active and which are not. As you get older genes that should be impaired become active and vice versa.

  2. Protein Accumulation

    Cells contain millions of proteins, and these are considered to be the building blocks of our cells. Sometimes proteins do not break down as they should, causing them to bundle together. These protein bundles can be harmful to cells.

  3. Mitochondrial Dysfunction

    Mitochondria is the driving force within the cells in our body which produces the energy that we need to live. As we get older, the mitochondria become damaged and without the driving force needed to produce energy, we age.

  4. Telomeres (DNA) Damage

    Telomeres are the outer layer of our DNA strands which protects the ends from unraveling. As you age, telomeres can become damaged, shorted, and stressed, which causes the effects of aging.

  5. Senescent Cells

    As we get older senescent cells will develop within our body. These cells are also known as “zombie cells” which normally break down, but as you age these cells hang out and do more harm than good.

What happens to your mind as you age?

Many grow old while being cognitively healthy, while others decline in cognitive health. Researchers are still working to understand the process of normal brain aging, but no one knows why some decline while others do not.

According to National Institute of Aging, some changes in cognitive health may occur, such as, one may be slower to find words or to recall names; one may find it difficult to multitask or may not have the ability to pay attention.

As you age certain parts of your brain may shrink, leading to cognitive decline in elderly people. Communication between neurons may not be as effective within this region of the brain. Blood flow to the brain may decrease and  inflammation can occur. These changes in the brain can affect mental function.

Speak with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your experience with aging. We cannot stop the aging process, but we sure can enjoy the life that we have! We at Culpepper Place of Olive Branch believe that it is important to have enriched lives full of memories and laughter. Stop by our facility to see why we were voted Desoto’s Best Assisted Living Facility two years in a row!

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