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Ageing - Physical and Psychological

Changes. Pathological Ageing


Discuss the physical and psychological changes associated with normal ageing. How can
one minimise pathological ageing?
The process of aging has been around as long as life itself. All living organisms pass
through three broad stages from conception to death, which are maturation, maturity and
aging. Aging affects everyone because nearly everyone has the potential to grow old and all
the societies in which we live have older members. The term was used to refer to the
scientific study of aging, but nowadays it includes the study of aging using views from other
disciplines such as humanities, social policy and human services. To correctly understand
aging, knowledge from a variety of sources is needed. here are four interrelated aspects to
the study of aging, which are, physical, psychological, social psychological and social. The
study of physical aging examines the causes and consequences of the bodys declining
capacity to renew itself and the means for preventing, treating, or compensating for illness or
disability caused or related by physical aging. Psychological aging focuses on sensory
processes, perception, coordination, mental capacity, human development, personality, and
coping ability as they are affected by aging.
In most societies, older people are generally viewed as a group of with common
characteristics and needs. Older age is usually viewed as a state, a stage or an event. In
reality, older people are not a homogenous group, but rather highly diverse individuals. The
factor that is common to all older people is the accumulation of more numerous life
experiences over a greater period of time than those of younger people. Aging is defined as
the process of becoming older, a process that is genetically determined and environmentally
modulated. Aging is something that everyone will have to experience. Everyone will have to
grow old. Normal ageing brings about changes in the body and mind, therefore both physical
and psychological. These symptoms are all part of ageing, but also some might not be due
to normal aging but rather due to diseases, which can be treated or remedied.
Changes related to normal Ageing
Vision
Vision is usually impaired due to ageing. These can be due to presbyopia. There can also
be overflow of tears due to blockage of drainage ducts and well as old people may have dry
eyes (Chopdar et al., 2003). In order to minimise such problems it is important to check for
presbyopia and wear suitable lens. Also it is important to seek a doctors advice on the need
of any eye drops, only against doctors prescription.

Hearing
Due to ageing hearing may be impaired. Hearing loss is common due to old age (Bates,
1993). In order to be able to adjust due to this condition lifestyle modifications may help to
overcome this situation. This may include the consideration of hearing aids. Also the
installation of loudspeakers to devices such as door bells and telephone units.
Sensation
Sensation also if affected due to normal ageing. Old people have a blunted touch sensation,
especially near the tips of the fingers and toes. Also there is a blunted sensation of
temperature (Macdonald, 1997). Therefore, in order to counter act these changes, it is
important for old people to wear well fitted shoes and take good care of their feet. If any
wounds are present these should be inspected regularly. Also it is important to wear suitable
clothes according to the days weather conditions.
Heart- lung function
In old age the heart and lung function does not remain the same as that of an individual in
his teens. A change that is related to normal ageing includes mild shortness of breath which
does not affect normal daily activities (Lowdon & McMurdo, 2004). In order to counter act
this one must maintain regular and also suitable exercise. One must take into consideration
the exercise tolerance in relation to his/her current age. Change to healthier lifestyle by
quitting smoking as this can have a direct relationship and can worsen the breathlessness. It
is important to not mix mild shortness of breath that does not affect normal daily activities
with shortness of breath at low exercise level and wheezing as these may be symptoms of
chronic bronchitis, asthma or heart failure.
Digestive System
A common change related to normal aging is changes that affect the digestive system. The
most common one observed in old age is constipation (Macdonald, 1997). In order to
minimise constipation it is essential or eat a fibre rich diet with more vegetables and fruit.
Also maintaining regular exercise can also reduce the chance of developing constipation.
Stools with blood or mucus are not part of normal ageing.
Urination
In normal ageing changes in urination also occurs. It is seen that there is more frequent
urination at night (Matteson et al., 1998). In order to minimise this pathological aspect of
normal ageing, it is suggested to avoid fluid intake one hour before sleeping. It is important
to distinguish between difficulty or pain while passing urine as this may be due to urinary

tract infections and for men as well as difficulty in urination, terminal dribbling or feeling of
incomplete bladder emptying as these may be all signs of prostate disease.
Memory
Mild impairment of memory or learning ability is considered as a normal consequence of
normal ageing. Impairment in cognitive functions, example getting lost in familiar places or
familiar environments, difficulty in calculation and logical thinking are not considered
changes due to normal ageing as these may be due to dementia (Mielke & Kessler, 2006).
In order to minimise the effects of mild memory impairment due to normal ageing,
adjustment in lifestyle may be useful. Important appointments should be clearly marked in a
visible manner on calendars or memo books. It is important that older people maintain
regular social activities and also continue to learn new things at their own pace (Brown,
1992).
Muscle and Joints
As part of normal ageing, joint paint is observed, especially in knees and also in obese
individuals. Also there is an increased forward bending of the spine. In order to minimize
these effects, it is important to avoid overloading of the weight bearing joints. Also it is
important to reduce weight, avoid carrying heavy object and maintain a suitable exercise
routine to retain muscle strength (Simpson & Jones, 2004). Another aspect is to prevent
degeneration of the bone. To counter act this it is important to maintain an adequate level of
calcium intake. This can be done by drinking at least one glass of milk per day. Perform
regular exercise and quit smoking. It is important to maintain correct posture at all times.
Sexual Function
With normal ageing there is also changes in the sexual function of the individual. There is a
reduced sexual drive (Read, 2004). For men, more time is needed to achieve and sustain
erection of the penis and for women, vagina may be painful during intercourse due to
reduced secretions. Read (2004) adds that in order to minimise these changes there should
be more understanding of the normal process of ageing in order to reduce unnecessary
anxiety. Also there should be consideration of assistive devices such as vaginal lubricants.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding after intercourse is not a part of normal ageing as this may be
due to cervical cancer.
Other aspects which may help to minimise pathological ageing include, always love yourself
and others, have faith and engage in prayer and/or meditation. It is essential to maintain a
high self-esteem, have a purpose in life and live it daily and always practice forgiveness for
oneself and others.

Ageing is part and parcel of life. Normal ageing brings along physical and psychological
changes. These cannot be avoided but strategies can be employed in order to minimise
these effects or counter act the changes that are synonymous with getting older. Also it is
important for both the individuals and their care givers to understand these normal changes
so as to be able to identify when a change is not due to the normal process of ageing but
rather due to a disease, so to be able to seek to help of services immediately.