Physical Changes

All human beings experience changes in their bodies as they age. Aging changes are caused by the effects of heredity, environment, cultural influences, diet, exercise, leisure choices, past illnesses and many other factors.

Certain medications, illnesses, significant life changes and increased demands on the body are stressors that make the body works harder. These factors contribute to the changing health status of an older body. It is difficult to predict how an individual’s health will progress in later life though there are certain physical changes that are be expected.

The brain, as an organ of the body, is vulnerable to the influences listed above and susceptible to change and illness in later life.

Mental health is physical health. As people consider age related health changes, they need to be aware of their own mental health and seek professional help if they have any symptoms of a mental health disorder.

Common physical changes in late life include:

  • Decrease in the number and mass of nerve cells, resulting in slight slowing of memory and thought processes (continued, moderate physical and mental exercise is helpful in maintaining cognitive abilities) and reduction of reflexes
  • Nerve changes, affecting the senses, making them less acute and requiring higher sensory input to trigger sensory awareness (hearing and vision being the most dramatic.)
  • Cellular and tissue changes result in organ rigidity, decreased organ capacity and functioning (though organs rarely function at full capacity anyway)
  • Decreased organ reserve makes it harder for the body to restore equilibrium, therefore drugs are detoxified at t slower rate and medication side effects become more common