Hormones and Aging

Hormones are vital and powerful chemicals, within each and every one of us! They act as messengers throughout the body and affect every function and action we perform! Our hormones have a direct impact on our moods, thoughts, blood sugar, blood pressure and temperature, just to name a few!

As the years pass, the hormone levels are processed at a slower rate and levels can be altered. Some levels may decrease and others may increase. This unsurprisingly can create a great array of disruptions around the body. The most renowned hormones that decline are estrogen, testosterone and DHEA. Hormone imbalance is a very common experience during aging, but don’t worry because there are very effective ways around this!

First let us talk about Estrogen, DHEA and Testosterone.

Estrogen

Estrogen plays a large part in maintaining healthy bones. The risk of bone loss and osteoporosis increases with the decline of Estrogen levels.

Testosterone:

This hormone is responsible for maintaining bone mass, muscle strength and libido. Sexual activity and general well-being can also decrease with the loss of testosterone.

DHEA:

This amazing hormone is a product of the adrenal glands and is commonly referred to as the fountain of youth hormone! It assists in a positive and youthful function throughout the entire body. Following the reduction of the hormone, a person can usually experience poor immunity, memory loss, low energy and libido. DHEA can also impact stress levels and bone density. Lower levels of this hormone become apparent when we pass our 20’s.

Other Effects and Risks:

The significant decrease in hormones, that usually accompanies aging, can dramatically increase the risk of:

Depression
Low Libido
Osteoporosis
Heart Disease
Irritability
Mood Swings
Diabetes

What can be done?

The imbalance or reduction of hormones, during the aging process, can create chaos but it’s good to know that relief is only an appointment away!

Check Ups – Schedule regular check up with your doctor to monitor your hormone levels and ensure that you feel in tip top health. Blood is usually drawn and blood glucose levels can be checked at the same time, to check for any signs of diabetes.

Supplements – Hormone therapy and supplements are becoming increasingly popular for their positive effects in dealing with many hormone-related problems that follow aging!

Contact your local doctor to discuss any further concerns or questions you may have about hormones and aging!

Aging and the Gastrointestinal Tract

Are you feeling sluggish, bloated or are experiencing constipation? This may be an effect of aging! Continue reading to discover what changes occur with our digestive system, as we age, and what we can do to improve or eliminate any problems!

The Digestive System, within our bodies, is a highly important one and consists of the teeth, mouth, tongue, stomach, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, large intestine, small intestine, pharynx and salivary glands. The body relies on the harmonious collaboration of the above list to ensure the adequate absorption of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and water!

How your digestive system functions, may not be something you regularly think about, when you’re younger but as we age, we may become more aware of it due to its changes and the effect it has on us. The changes that occur affect everyone differently and at different times

What Changes Occur?

Along with the rest of the body, there is the expected slowing of cell regeneration making us increasingly prone to tissue damage. As we age our muscle tone decreases and the gastrointestinal tract doesn’t escape this process. Slowed digestion is the result of this, as food travels at a slower pace through the digestive system. The can cardiac sphincter, which controls food between the stomach and esophagus, can also becomes less effective. The level of salivary secretion decreases, along with digestive enzymes, which impacts on the absorption of vitamins, minerals and overall digestion.

The Effects

Increased Constipation
Reflux (Heartburn)
More Prone to Liver Problems
Hemorrhoids
Risk of Malnutrition

Supporting a Healthy Gastrointestinal Tract

During the aging process, many changes occur so it’s a good idea to adapt in order to continue feeling healthy and full of vitality! Medication is not always necessary for complaints of the gastrointestinal tract or digestive system. Many symptoms can be improved or eliminated with the adjustment of your lifestyle or diet

Pay close attention to what you put on your plate! Stick to a diet that is abundant in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Eat more vegetables that are high in protein. Animal products become increasingly difficult to digest as we get older.

Opt for high fiber food for smoother digestion and to reduce constipation.

Reduce fat intake. This move is not only good for the heart but is very beneficial in diminishing the presence of heartburn, constipation, diabetes and colon cancer!

Drink plenty of fluids. If you start drinking 8 – 10 glasses of water per day you are sure to notice a positive effect!

Consider adding vitamin and mineral supplements to your diet. Vitamin D3 is a fantastic addition as this aids in the optimum absorption of calcium and to ensure optimum bone strength. Vitamin B12 is another wonderful supplement that can reduce the risk of anemia and nerve damage.

Regular exercise. Any exercise, that involves increased breathing and heart rate, assists in the effective functioning of the digestive system.

Be aware of your body and how you feel. If you sense that something is not right or notice a sudden change, make an appointment with your local doctor to find out the best ways to maintain a healthy digestive system!

Aging – Posture and Gait Changes

As you gracefully pass your 50’s you may come across a strange discovery. Don’t be surprised, if upon measuring your height, you find that you have shrunk!

“What is going on?” You may ask. Well the process of aging involves many different changes and one of the most obvious ones is in the way we move and also our posture

So what exactly happens?

As we age the body loses calcium and other minerals more readily than before, which can cause the bones to reduce in density and therefore become increasingly brittle.

The vertebrae, within the spine, becomes thinner and more curved, causing a reduction in overall height

The arches of the feet decline

Muscle tissue shrinks and regeneration occurs at a slower rate

Joints may become stiff and painful because of less fluid and cartilage to cushion the joints

Effects

All of these changes can contribute to an alteration in posture and gait. A major difference is in the reduction of height, which is mainly due to the compacting of the spine.

You may notice that your posture may differ quite considerably and become more bent over than in previous years. Along with this, movement can become slower and changes in balance can cause many to feel increasingly unsteady. This is a time when extra care needs to be taken to avoid unpleasant falls and injury.

Due to the reduction of muscle tissue, the level of strength can decline but it may be a surprising to learn that endurance commonly increases as we age, so take advantage of it!

Can anything be done?

Of course there can! There is no point in giving up and allowing time to take its toll! There are many things that can be done to slow or even eliminate problems with posture! The best course of action, which can be started today, is to ensure that you incorporate moderate exercise into your daily routine. This assists in encouraging flexibility and strength. However, consult with your doctor before commencing any exercise program that you have not previously been involved with. You don’t want to overdo it! Start slow and gradually build up the intensity and duration.

Specific balancing and posture exercises can also be applied to enhance strength and awareness of your body and how you move.

Monitoring your diet is another highly effective way to ensure that your bones and posture remain at their very best. A balanced diet that is abundant in calcium will do wonders for maintaining healthy bones. Women and men over the age of 65 are advised to have an intake of calcium ranging between 1,200 – 1,500 mg a day.

Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns or would like more information on how to improve and maintain a healthy posture!

Aging and How it Affects our Senses

As we go about our usual day, our activities are largely influenced and affected by our five senses. We may not think about it often but these senses play a large role in everything we do! As we age, there are changes that occur throughout the entire body, which also includes our senses of hearing, vision, smell, touch and taste.

The extent and speed of these changes are largely determined by our lifestyle, current health and conditions as well as genetics. The loss or deterioration of any of these senses can be often be quite challenging and frustrating but continue reading to discover ways in which these changes can be corrected or relieved!

Our bodies require a certain level of stimulation before our senses will recognize it. It has been discovered that during the aging process the level of stimulation that is required increases. It is probably no surprise that the most obvious senses affected by aging are the loss of hearing and vision.

How Vision is Affected

Eye are dryer and more uncomfortable due to less lubrication being produced
Slower reaction between the pupil adapting between bright light and darkness
Clarity of vision decreases
Pupils decrease in size
Increased difficulty in tolerating glare
Particles in the eye may appear (known as floaters)
Difficulty driving and reading
Field of Vision reduces
Cataract Development

All of these changes have the potential to cause injury, eye strain, headaches and fatigue.

How to improve vision problems:

– Eye drops can be very helpful in relieving dry and irritated eyes
– Contact lenses or glasses are highly effective in correcting vision problems
– Incorporate the use of warmer colors (red, yellow, orange) around the home as these colors are easier to distinguish between than cooler colors.
– Schedule regular eye examinations

How Hearing is Affected

As we get older hearing loss occurs due to the structures and nerves gradually breaking down within the ear.

Eardrum thickens
Presbycusis – This is the most prevalent type of hearing loss associated with aging. Sounds of high frequency become more difficult to distinguish and general hearing may decline. The degree of this type of hearing loss is linked to the exposure to loud noise in the past.
Tinnitus – Tinnitus is a very common condition that is experienced amongst many older member of society. If you notice a persistent ringing or unusual sounds it is very likely to be tinnitus.

The loss of hearing can have a dramatic impact on our lives. Unfortunately some level of hearing loss can’t be avoided, when it comes to aging. The good news is that there are many ways in which hearing can be improved. All it takes it a visit to your health professional to find out the various forms of assistance available. You may be referred to a specialist or qualify to use hearing aids or implants. There are also a range of devices for around the home that are designed especially for those experiencing hearing difficulties.

How Taste and Smell are Affected

The senses of taste and smell are closely related and work together brilliantly. As we age these senses decline, which can lead to problems.

These two senses assist in ensuring that we consume and enjoy healthy food. They also act to keep us safe. However the decline of these senses can cause a lack of appetite and nutrition deficiency. Someone with difficulties with taste and smell are also more like to accidently to ingest food that is not fit for consumption!

Many find that increasing the concentration of flavors or adding more spices assists in enhancing the enjoyment of food!

If you experience changes in you taste or smell, speak with your health professional as such losses can also be due to other factors, aside from aging, that can be easily treated.

How Touch is Affected

The act of touching involves receives signals and vibrations, which let you know whether something is pleasant, unpleasant, soft, hard, hot or cold! During the later years this reduces in sensitivity due to a reduced level of blood flow to the touch receptors. This can make it more difficult to distinguish between sensations such as hot and cold.

These changes pose a risk to such problems as:

– Difficulty walking
– Frostbite
– Burns
– Hypothermia
– Pressure Sores

Safety Strategies:

Regularly check your entire body for skin condition, sores and other abnormalities. You never know what you may discover even if you’re not experiencing pain!

Adjust the water heater in your home so that it doesn’t exceed a certain temperature. This will reduce the likelihood of accidental burning occurring.

If unsure on the appropriate level of dressing for the current temperature, consider having a quick glance at a thermometer, to guide you.

Skin, Hair, Teeth and Aging

The process of aging is one that brings with it: wisdom and knowledge. A significant product of this process is also one that many aren’t overly enthusiastic about. It is the effect on the body’s skin, hair and teeth. Noticed a few extra wrinkles or changes in your hair and teeth lately? Well continue reading to discover the best actions to deal with and possibly slow this progression.

As we age the skin, teeth and hair are among the first parts of our body to display changes. The time when this occurs will differ between individuals according to genetics, exposure to the elements and your current health.

As we age you may already be noticing or can expect to experience the following:

Skin

As the years pass the skin becomes more delicate and fragile which leaves it more prone to bruising. Age spots may make an appearance and skin tone and elasticity is reduced. Increased dryness is often experienced as a result of less natural oils being produced to hydrate the skin. This is a major factor in the creation of those dreaded wrinkles.

Hair

The most dramatic effects on the hair, is that it may change to a shade of grey. The body’s hair color is affected by the pigment, melanin. As time passes, the hair follicles produce less of this pigment resulting in loss of color. Hair loss and thinning can also occur amongst both men and women as we age.

Teeth

How your teeth stand the test of time, is largely reflected in how you have looked after them in the past. Even with perfect dental care, the mouth becomes noticeably drier as less saliva is produced than before. This can sometimes lead to an increased risk of tooth decay. The teeth may also darken, change shape, become thinner and more brittle.

What can be done?

In today’s society, we are often bombarded with idealistic views of perfection, anti-aging and products that must purchased in order to achieve it. However, this can often be misleading and commonly only leads to disappointment. Purchasing so-called anti-aging products are not necessary if you simply follow some basic steps. These will assist in maintaining a healthy hair, teeth and skin to ensure that the aging process is a smooth and slow one.

For Healthy Skin:

Avoid direct exposure to the sun for long periods
Wear a hat, sunscreen and cover the skin as much as possible when outdoors
Drink plenty of water to ensure optimum hydration. This will not only keep you feeling great but does wonders for the skin!
Eliminate smoking
Steer away from oily or fatty foods
Opt for gentle skin products such as soap or moisturizers that are suitable for sensitive skin.
Increase intake of Vitamin C. Did you know that Vitamin C makes a natural collagen? This assists in improving elasticity and is wonderful for boosting the immunity!
Introduce Omega 3 oil into your diet. This oil is highly beneficial to the skin and leaves it feeling supple and smooth. Fish oil, avocados, walnuts, seeds other nuts are abundant in Omega 3.

For Healthy Teeth:

Maintain excellent dental hygiene. Brush and floss after every main meal.
Include an antiseptic mouth wash into your dental care routine to fight bacteria and mouth infections.
Schedule regular visits with your dentist for checkups and cleanings.
To reduce teeth stains; reduce red wine, coffee, black tea and smoking.

For Healthy Hair:

Choose gentle shampoos and conditioners to reduce hair damage
Massage the scalp to stimulate blood circulation and encourage increased hair growth.
Exercise, meditate or participate in a relaxing activity as stress can initiate increased hair loss.
If you experience a dramatic increase or sudden hair loss, check with your doctor.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and Aging

Are you experiencing incontinence, difficulties with bathroom visits or pelvic pain? Well you may be one of the many who is displaying symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. PFD is a common occurrence amongst aging women but can sometimes affect men.

What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD) is the condition where the Pelvic Floor does not function as it should and includes prolapse of the bladder, rectum, bowel or uterus. This condition is often embarrassing and can leave many suffering from low self esteem and depression as a result. It is commonly undiagnosed and it is quite staggering to find that that an estimated one third of the population of women suffer from PFD, at some point! The likelihood of PFD occurring increases significantly amongst women as they age. Other contributing factors are diabetes, hernia, obesity and hormone imbalance.

Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

The most common symptoms of PFD include one or more of these:

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Frequent incontinence
  • Pain during urination
  • Rectal Pain
  • Pelvic Pressure
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Pain when sitting, walking or standing
  • Urgency to urinate then difficulties emptying the bladder

What can be done?

If you have any of the symptoms, it is essential that you seek medical guidance because it is a condition that does not necessarily need to be endured! If diagnosed early, Pelvic Floor Dysfunction can often be treated successfully using non surgical procedures. These options are available and provide excellent results:

Pelvic Floor Exercises and Rehabilitation

These exercises are incorporated to strengthen the muscles to perform more efficiently and effectively.

Medications:

With the guidance of a doctor, you may find that there is a variety or medications that can be administered to provide relief and a reduction in PFD

Education and Behavior Therapy:

Changes in lifestyle or behavior can have a dramatic effect in minimizing the occurrence of PFD.

– Managing a healthy weight. (This also reduces risk of Diabetes, which can also aggravate Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.)
– Controlled fluid intake
– Bladder training

Biofeedback:

This therapy is designed to retrain patients how to co-ordinate the abdominal muscles with the pelvic floor muscles. Biofeedback training successfully reduces the symptoms in 70% of cases.

Relaxation:

Relaxation is a powerful therapy when dealing with Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, as stress is a major contributing factor in worsening PFD symptoms. Stress causes muscles to tighten, so take the time to do something you find relaxing. Yoga, meditation and Tai Chi are renowned for their ability to reduce stress and tension.

Surgery

If the symptoms are more severe or continue to occur over an extended period of time, more invasive and surgical procedures are an option and have high success rates. Pelvic Floor Reconstruction surgery, slings for incontinence and other options are available to reduce or eliminate the symptoms.

What Next?

If you suspect you may have Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, speak to your doctor to find out the best course of action to ensure you feel comfortable, happy and healthy no matter what your age!

Sexual Patterns and Aging

Intertwined gender symbols

Sex is a wonderful activity that provides amazing benefits to both your mind and body! It has the powerful ability to release tension, stress and anxiety. It also boosts circulation and helps to improves physical and psychological well being!

With aging, a vast array of changes can take place throughout the entire body. The way that we function is altered and one of these functions is our sexual behavior. Many people may come across difficulties in this area through the progression of aging but there are many things that can be done in order to maintain a healthy and enjoyable sex life!

What Changes Occur?

Changes in Men:

Inconsistency in Erections

Difficulty Reaching Ejaculation

Increased stimulation required

Problems experiencing orgasms

Changes in Women:

Difficulty becoming aroused

Lack of lubrication

Sex may be painful or uncomfortable

Increased stimulation required

Reduced orgasms

What is the cause of these changes?

A combination of factors can contribute to changes in sexual behavior. The desire to participate in sexual activity can be diminished due to changes in hormones and increased pain that is commonly accompanies aging. Medications and physical restrictions can also have a dramatic impact on sexual desire and performance.

What can we do?

Sex is not just for the young but is fantastic for the young at heart! With the changes of aging, the act of sex can sometimes be more daunting or challenging. However, don’t give up and be sure to persevere because with so many benefits, you’ve got nothing to lose!

Steps to improve your sexual enjoyment today!

Communicate

Be open and honest with your partner. Don’t take it so seriously all the time and take the time to be playful and enjoy the experience. Consider initiating sexual activity in the morning, when energy levels are usually higher. Most importantly, explore and experiment to find what works best for you and your partner!

Love Yourself!

Release any feelings of inadequacy or low self esteem. Embrace your body and appreciate everything that it is capable of. Be positive and confidant!

Intimacy

Sex doesn’t just include intercourse. It encompasses strong emotional connections that are highly rewarding. A romantic outing, physical contact and kissing are perfect ways to increase intimacy.

Get moving and get physical

By maintaining good levels of physical fitness, you won’t just improve your physical health and wellbeing – you will also improve your sexual activity.  You will feel much more energetic and vibrant – and that is always going to be conducive to good sexual health as well.

Additional Help

Sexual changes are a natural progression of aging. Instead of fighting these changes, discover the many ways around them to allow you to embrace you and partner’s bodies. If you are concerned or would like to know more about your sexual enjoyment, schedule an appointment with your local doctor. You will be amazed with the knowledge and assistance that is available!

Aging and Body Pains

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Do you wake up in the morning expecting to feel refreshed only to discover you’ve found yourself with a stiff and sore back or knee or hip? We’ll you’re not alone!

You may have found that in earlier years, such pain would be the direct result of a strenuous sports game or other vigorous activity but now seem to receive the same result from a short errand or light gardening.

As we age we are more prone to feeling aches and pains throughout the body. Sometimes these require medical attention. Severe inflammation of the joints, known as arthritis, is a very common condition that is experienced amongst the older population. This can cause tremendous pain but luckily there are many avenues for treatment and relief available, with the help of a doctor.

Most times, general aches and pains can be dealt with at home with fantastic results!

Prevention

Before I continue, it must be said, that prevention is better than cure! Sure, aging and aches are inevitable, however, these pains and stiffness can be greatly reduced if your body continues to stay physically active! I’m not talking about running a marathon but am referring to gentle walking or other non strenuous activities to keep your body flexible and therefore less prone to injury and pain!

Pain Relief

Stretching

Activities such as Pilates and Yoga are a wonderful and gentle exercise program that increases strength, tone and flexibility. With increased flexibility, comes reduced risk of injury! These exercises are also renowned for their stress relieving effects!

Massage Therapy

A good massage not only relaxes and relieves muscle pain but is also a highly effective stress reliever! Massage is ideal for dealing with chronic pain.

Products

A trip to your local chemist will provide you with a range of products that are readily available to ease the discomfort of body pain. Topical analgesic creams and muscle relaxants provide tremendous relief for cramps and aching joints. Many doctors recommend the use of anti-inflammatory medication to relieve severe muscle pain. However, this should be used with caution and with the guidance of a doctor due to its slight blood thinning effect.

Holistic Medication

With the increased awareness of chemical and medicinal side effects, more and more people are turning towards holistic alternatives and have found great results! Many people swear by nutritional supplements, TENS therapy and seek relief through Acupuncture and Chiropractors.

If you are concerned about unusual aches and pains, seek advice from your doctor.