Growing older ~ Aging

Aging.

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Description or Situation

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Overview

A disaster is typically described in various resources as a sudden or abrupt event causing unexpected and overwhelming damage. There is nothing sudden about growing older yet it still has attributes associated with descriptive words that resemble such events. Synonyms  often used to describe a disaster may be fitting to those who are unfamiliar with the aging process in humans. Words such as  catastrophe, tragedy, cataclysm, adversity, tribulation, affliction, misfortune, misadventure are all applicable for many people who are suffering one way or another from the aging process. It can feel disastrous.

For many, ... growing older can feel like a slow death prompting the surrendering of efforts to combat the effects.  Some continue to fight against the aging process while continuing forward and feel they are successful with the results.  The acceptance or denial of getting older has caused a great many people to either seek out remedies and solutions or give up altogether. The realization of aging and it's effects has been known to provoke a sense of defeat which can consume zeal and enthusiasm resulting in deep depression.  Some people are successful at combating the effects of aging and use the process to their advantage. Despite our illustrious efforts to mask the effects of aging the inevitable still remains. We as humans grow older. How we deal with it can make or break the remainder of our lives and effect those around us. The aging process is incremental and is realized in stages where landmarks of unexpected limitations surface defining our age. The mind participates in the process of degradation and aging becomes accelerated which compounds the effects. Are we or are we not as young as we feel?, ... as the saying goes. That is a matter of perspective and specific for each individual.

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The following information is intended to enlighten those who seek confirmation regarding attributes associated with the human aging process. For many, ... this process can at times feel like a disaster if not prepared or ready for the journey. The content provided here touches on typical expectations for various stages in the aging process for human beings with the intent to offer an understanding of the journey we all face.

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What is growing older?

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For humans, ... growing older typically represents the accumulation of changes in a person over time, encompassing physical, psychological, and social changes to the body and mind. Aging is among the largest known risk factors for most human beings and is compounded each year we get older. The human body and mind are subject to a slow deterioration process which for the most part is hardly noticeable with the exception of a few gray hairs or a the discovery of a new facial line or wrinkle.

Humans typically go about our lives without much concern for aging until a situation or circumstance forces reality to the surface of acknowledgement. Those circumstance may be evident while engaging in physical activities or attempting to attract romance and such without the same effects as when we were younger. As children, ... we often wish to be older and grown up. Children can understand at an early age that independence from parental restrictions and law go hand in hand. They are not as concerned with appearances as they are with freeing themselves from authoritative bonds. As we progress between adolescence and young adulthood vanity and appearance  become a main focus for a majority of youths. It is during these moments in time when we feel confident in our appearance and we are ready to take the world. For young adults, ... appearances define much of what we are. However, ... as humans get older we tend to want the aging process to slow down, ... especially if we are satisfied with our outward appearance and performance.

As the aging process continues we find ourselves occasionally struggling with things that was once natural and easier. Some people will ignore these new difficulties often blaming them on fatigue, ... the lack of nourishment or other environmental conditions. That is normal. Others tend to make inquiries during doctors visits with the aim of categorizing their new condition as a health related issue, ... which is possible. As we continue on into later years of an expected life span for humans we find ourselves lacking in the ability to perform simple tasks without incurring pain or injury. It is this time in life when assistance from devices or care givers are often required.

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 Additional definitions for growing older

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Chronological aging

Chronological age is based solely on the passage of time. It is a person’s age in years. Chronological age has limited significance in terms of health. Nonetheless, the likelihood of developing a health problem increases as people age. Because chronological age helps predict many health problems, it has some legal and financial uses. [Dictionary.com]

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Biological aging

Biological age refers to changes in the body that commonly occur as people age. Because these changes affect some people sooner than others, some people are biologically old at 40, and others at later ages. However, most noticeable differences in apparent age among people of similar chronological age are caused by lifestyle, habit, and subtle effects of disease rather than by differences in actual aging.  [Wikipedia]

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Psychological aging

Psychological age is based on how people act and feel. For example, an 80-year-old who works, plans, looks forward to future events, and participates in many activities is considered psychologically young.  [The free dictionary]

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What are the effects?

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What is inevitable are attributes associated with aging. One way or another we are all subject to experiencing the effects of growing older. Many people are skilled at masking the effects associated with aging however those efforts are often short lived and in vein. Our genetic code typically depicts the success or lack thereof for such efforts and is specific, ... from one person to the next. Some people are simply born with the gift of youthful appearance and vitality while others are plagued with rapid deterioration or accelerated aging.

Characteristics associated with aging include but are not limited to frequent sore muscles, snapping and popping of bones and joints,  deterioration of eye sight and hearing,  defects on the skin,   hair loss,  memory loss,  reaction time,  endurance and of course our outward physical attraction to others. All these characteristics have psychological effects that can be detrimental to sensitive personalities causing a lack of confidence often resulting in retraction from society.

A number of characteristics associated with aging are experienced by a majority of humans during their lifetime. Growing older is a variable process applicable to each specific person. Not everyone ages in the same manor or time frame. In addition to aging effects being specific to each human being they are also gender specific. Women for instance generally place more emphasis on their appearance utilizing make up etcetera while men are typically happier when sporting a few muscles and a six pack set of abs. All these rituals of vanity often define who we are, .... until our appearances deteriorate beyond restorative efforts and becomes pointless. We either adapt to reinventing ourselves or we surrender to the effects and seek out other options to build ourselves up in confidence.

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Below are normal conditions of the aging process for human beings.

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  • Teenagers lose the young child's ability to hear high-frequency sounds above 20 kHz.
  • A continuous decline in several cognitive processes occurs after a peak performance in the mid-20s age group.
  • By age 30, wrinkles develop mainly due to photo-aging, particularly affecting sun-exposed areas (face, hands) of fair-skinned individuals.
  • Around age 35, female fertility declines sharply.
  • In the mid-forties, presbyopia generally becomes apparent.
  • Around age 50, hair turns grey in Caucasoid. Many men are affected by balding, and women enter menopause.
  • In the 60-64 age cohort, osteoarthritis rises to 53%. Only 20% however report disabling osteoarthritis at this age.
  • In the 70-79 age range, partial hearing loss affecting communication rises to 65%, predominantly among low-income males.
  • Over the age of 85, thirst perception decreases, such that 41% of the elderly drink insufficiently. Frailty, defined as loss of muscle mass and mobility, affects 25% of those over 85.

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Additional effects and conditions of the aging process

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Aging furthermore is among the greatest known risk factors for most human diseases. Specifically, age is a major risk factor for most common neurological degenerative diseases. Dementia becomes more common with age. About 3% of people between the ages of 65–74 have dementia, 19% between 75 and 84 and nearly half of those over 85 years of age. The spectrum includes mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease, cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson's disease and Lou Gehrig's disease. Research has focused in particular on memory and aging and has found decline in many types of memory with aging, but not in semantic memory or general knowledge such as vocabulary definitions, which typically increases or remains steady until the late adulthood. Early studies on changes in cognition with age generally found declines in intelligence in the elderly, but studies were cross-sectional rather than longitudinal and thus results may be an artifact of cohort rather than a true example of decline. However, longitudinal studies could be confounded due to prior test experience. Intelligence may decline with age, though the rate may vary depending on the type and may in fact remain steady throughout most of the lifespan, dropping suddenly only as people near the end of their lives. Individual variations in rate of cognitive decline may therefore be explained in terms of people having different lengths of life. There are changes to the brain: though neuron loss is minor after 20 years of age there is a 10% reduction each decade in the total length of the brain's myelinated axons.

Age can result in communication barriers, such as due to hearing loss and visual impairment. Sensory impairments include hearing and vision deficits. Changes in cognition, hearing, and vision are associated with healthy aging and can cause problems when diagnosing dementia and aphasia due to the similarities. Common conditions that can increase the risk of hearing loss in elderly people are high blood pressure, diabetes or the use of certain medications harmful to the ear. Hearing aids are commonly referred to as personal amplifying systems, which can generally improve hearing by about 50%. In visual impairment, non-verbal communication is reduced, which can lead to isolation and possible depression. Macular degeneration is a common cause of vision loss in elderly people. This degeneration is caused by systemic changes in the circulation of waste products and growth of abnormal vessels around the retina causing the photo-receptors not to receive proper images.

A distinction can be made between "proximal aging" (age-based effects that come about because of factors in the recent past) and "distal aging" (age-based differences that can be traced back to a cause early in person's life, such as childhood poliomyelitis).

Of the roughly 150,000 people who die each day across the globe, about two thirds—100,000 per day—die from age-related causes. In industrialized nations, the proportion is much higher, reaching 90%.

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What are causes for aging?

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The causes of aging are unknown; current theories are assigned to the damage concept, whereby the accumulation of externally induced damage (such as DNA point mutations) may cause biological systems to fail, or to the programmed aging concept, whereby internal processes (such as DNA telomere shortening) may cause aging. [More on potential causes of aging here]

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Accelerated aging

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Accelerated aging can be detrimental to those who have come to realize they themselves may have triggered a rapid and quicker deterioration in their appearance or overall health. Not all humans age at the same pace. Though it is factual that the appearance of aging varies from one person to the next it is not solely attributed to genetic make up or DNA. There are external events and conditions which have effects on the human body and mind which can influence acceleration in the aging process. Humans are subject to one or more conditions that can contribute to accelerated aging. Some of those external elements are listed below.

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Economic and financial conditions

Financial conditions can attribute to heavy stress. It doesn't matter if we have an abundance of money or less than enough to live comfortably, ... the fact remains the same. The process of managing our money can cause stress. Money doesn't come with instructions as the saying goes so mismanaging those resources can lead to deep depression causing a number of consequences such as accelerated aging. Unfortunately it takes the exchange of currency or goods to live a life of comfort now days which for the most part is a driving force. Keeping up with the neighbors or maintaining a prestigious lifestyle can be taxing on the human body and mind which can also accelerate the aging process due to exhaustion and stress.

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Self perception

It has been noted by the medical community that self perception may be a contributing factor in growing old faster. As humans get older we often give in to the effects and appearances associated with the aging process and convince ourselves that we are no longer youthful. This very often has an effect which causes people to slip into what they believe are the next or final stages of aging. If we convince ourselves that we are old than the body and mind can follow that line of thinking.

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Obesity

Excessive body weight is a contributing factor known to accelerate the aging process in humans. Over consumption of food, especially foods that have little or no nutritional value can perpetuate higher levels of distress on the human body which can eventually lead to accelerated aging. A poor diet imposes a number of added risks for humans which has been known to shorten life spans.

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Emotional distress

Our emotional conditions are known to have a direct correlation to the aging process of the human body. Constant worry and taxation of the mind can realize a number of health related issues that can result in the appearance of accelerated aging.

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Medications, alcohol and drug abuse

Medications can have effects which present the appearance and feelings associated with growing old faster. Alcohol and drug abuse can quickly add to the aging process as well. The effects of such activities are often lasting and non reversible.

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Conditions of hygiene

Personal hygiene is an element that has an impact on the human body often effecting appearances leading to degradation of bodily conditions. Additional aspects of poor hygiene can result in infections and illnesses known to accelerate the aging process.

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Work related and occupational conditions

The type of work we do can have an effect on our appearances of aging. In addition to appearances are those attributes effecting bodily functions. Many occupations impose a heavier degree of stress and wear which can break down the human body if not given the appropriate time to rest and rejuvenate. Even with appropriate rest the human body can not sustain the same vitality as we advance into our senior years. In many case athletes for instance suffer from having depleted quality of cell growth and bodily resources resulting in early retirement. Over exerting and excessive exercise can have unfortunate repercussions for the human body.

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Progeria

HGPS, progeria syndrome is an extremely rare genetic disorder wherein symptoms resembling aspects of aging are manifested at a very early age. Progeria is one of several progeroid syndromes. The word progeria comes from the Greek words "pro", meaning "before" or "premature", and "gēras", meaning "old age". The disorder has a very low incidence rate, occurring in an estimated 1 per 8 million live births.Those born with progeria typically live to their mid teens to early twenties. It is a genetic condition that occurs as a new mutation, and is rarely inherited, as carriers usually do not live to reproduce. Although the term progeria applies strictly speaking to all diseases characterized by premature aging symptoms, and is often used as such, it is often applied specifically in reference to Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome . [Source / read more]

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[ 7 Signs You’re Aging Too Fast ]

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  Find  "solutions to growing older" 

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Relevant resources

http://www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health-pictures/bad-habits-that-make-you-age-faster.aspx

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fighting-fear/201309/getting-old-twice-fast-everyone-else

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/aging/art-20046070

http://www.maxworkouts.com/lp/3-worst-exercises-that-cause-aging-p1/adv

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3545872

http://www.progeriaresearch.org/

https://www.nia.nih.gov/

https://www.ncoa.org/

http://www.aoa.gov/

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