Healthy life: Our amazing, aging bodies

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They say we have 61,000 people in the USA over a hundred years old and babies born today will live past 100. They will have better medical care, more cures for diseases, and better knowledge on nutrition and exercise. We’ve learned that drugs, alcohol and smoking can kill us.

Longevity is something we would all like but unfortunately the baby boomer generation bodies have already begun the aging process. Why do we age if our cells regenerate? Cell research is working on it and it’s just a matter of time before we benefit.

I don’t want to be a burden to my children. I watched my parents suffer and leave sky high medical bills. If they found the fountain of youth today would it also reverse our signs of aging?

Rolling Stones songwriter and guitarist Keith Richards seems to defy all logic when it comes too aging. (Facebook meme)

Quality of life.  This will encompass all the signs of aging and is described as the general well-being of development, employment, healthcare, emotional, physical, culture, how you live, work and take care of yourself. All employment has its ups and downs, with stress to the brain and/or body.

Preventive care and also timely care of our health issues is vitally important. Sometimes we can’t afford to miss work, we’re in a hurry, busy with our lives or there is even fear in the results that keep us from medical help. Emotional or family issues can keep us down. There are situations in our lives that we are not able to change.

Not everyone can have the perfect life but we can take measures to improve our lives whenever possible to ease the life journey into old age. More and more people are finding ways to keep or improve their quality of life with healthy nutrition and exercise.

Memory Lost and Found, Senior Moments and/or brain farts. There are songs, games and even jokes about forgetting names or even everyday tasks. Blogs on senior moments quickly see readers write in about their similar moments so we all have them. At the risk of sounding like I need mental help, I won’t list mine here.

Yes, there is normal forgetfulness and there are senior moments. The brain can experience age related memory loss that we can attribute to lack of sleep, inattentiveness, etc. Or a brain fart where we do or say something that is totally stupid and we know better but still do it causing ourselves stress and embarrassment. Neuroscientists call them maladaptive brain changes and are absolutely normal for humans. If it begins to disrupt your normal daily life, then it could be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia and you should see a doctor for diagnosis.

Reading small print. It’s called Presbyobia. As we age it becomes more difficult to focus and see small print. The lens becomes thicker and isn’t as flexible. You can get headaches and eye fatigue when trying to read without glasses. Might as well except it and use the glasses. Besides, they are fashionable again.

In the age of computers we spend more hours on the computer with work, personal use and even entertainment. There are reading glasses for all levels and for most people you’ll start buying them in your 40’s and increasing the level as the years go by. We use them at work whether you work in an office, retail or even the field as most is now on computers in one form or another. We need them to read our cell phones and I recently learned on a trip to Las Vegas that I need them to play the slot machines. Couldn’t see those darn reels!

Liver Spots. Old age spots. First you think maybe it’s a freckle, but no it turns out to be a liver spot and you think, “Yikes! A liver spot, I can’t be getting a liver spot, I am too young.” You can’t get rid of them, they’re incurable. It isn’t mandatory to have imaging done and they will probably last the rest of your life. They can be tan, light brown, dark brown and even black flat spots.

My dad was a red head and he had reddish brown age spots. They are attributed to aging and the sun. Same as memory and eye sight issues, they start showing up in your 40’s. There is a whole list of ideas on how to fade liver spots and of course I have tried a few but my spots are still here. Now the newest cure is coconut oil and I am trying that on the one on my cheek. Wish me luck.

Jennifer Lopez turned 50 last year and she used this photo on Instagram to mark the occasion.

Wrinkling and sagging skin. How young or old we are when this begins must be hereditary or in how we care for our skin because I think this happens at different times in our lives. It is such a shock when you start noticing this happening to your skin. I think I noticed it first in my hands. Although most people notice it around the eyes or mouth. I was a smoker so I also see it around my lips. Yuck, I regret smoking on so many levels. My generation also spread baby oil generously on our skin and then soaked up the sun.

There was the Vampire face lift. Not sure if that was a fad or if they are still doing it. Sounds miraculous but the downfall is the face lift is temporary and once you’ve stretched your skin out it will leave it sagging more than before. We need something more permanent. There are pages and pages online of remedies to get smoother skin and remove wrinkles. I think at this time good skin care is all we can do and the wrinkles are our own particular skin.

Turkey Neck. Sagging neck muscles that relax with age and weaken with lack of use, skin that lost its elasticity and let’s face it, fat will give you turkey neck and also gives away your age. The biggest thing I remember about my great grandma is sitting on her lap and touching her soft turkey neck. Crazy isn’t it? My granddaughter is a snuggler and I have felt her little fingers softly touching my throat.

It made me laugh out loud. I (of course) don’t think I have much of a turkey neck but it is softer than it used to be. The internet has easy steps to take in tightening up those neck muscles and even tools to tone. You can exaggerate your chewing. This will help to tighten up those muscles as well as help in digestion. Anti-aging skin care and even surgery are options if you absolutely can’t live with the gobble gobbler.

Gray, thinning or bald hair.  These aging signs are also hereditary as to when you might first experience. Overall health issues can contribute to hair health. As much as we try, plucking the grey ones only work for a while since they aggressively spread to cover other parts of our body. We often hear that redheads don’t grey. What happens is that the color merely fades and eventually turns white. Every hair contains pigment cells that gradually die out until our hair becomes grey, white or transparent.

Hair is non-essential so those vitamins needed for a healthy head of hair are likely to go elsewhere. Balding may start as early as your 20’s although normal hair loss happens on a day-to-day basis. Good nutrition and massaging while shampooing to bring the blood supply to the surface are always good. I do love when I get my hair done and she massages my scalp. It’s so relaxing.

Betty White is in her 90’s and is enjoying a great life
(By David Shankbone/Wikipedia)

Vim and Vigor. If it feels like your get up and go, got up and went then you may be experiencing some aging. Energy levels, strength, loss of muscle tone, these are symptoms of aging. Believe it or not, age-related Sarcopenia begins to affect us in our 30’s. People who are physically inactive can lose 3-5% of muscle mass each decade and even if we are active we will still lose some.

The muscle loss and stamina contributes to the frailty and injuries we experience as we age. Normally when we tell our doctors that we are tired and listless, they say, “yeah, well you are getting old.” I don’t believe this at all. I think when someone finally retires and sits in front of the TV doing nothing day in and day out that it is only a matter of time. Active people live longer, healthier lives. Studies are showing that doctors need to take a closer look at their patients’ health to determine if there are other health issues behind the fatigue.

Our Sexy Figure. Ha! ha! Okay, for those who had an hourglass figure or those who were normal that are now having trouble losing the love handles. Truthfully, only 20% of women have or had an hourglass figure. The average size of an American woman is 14. I remember reading somewhere that the fashion world designs clothing for the 20% of women with an hourglass figure and that everyone else is wearing unflattering clothing. I believe that!

Women in their 50’s round out as body fat builds up towards the center of the body. I blame my weight gain on my childhood years. At the dining table my parents made me stay until I cleaned my plate. I still keep eating until my plate is clean even if I am full. The idea of filling your plate and then taking half back off is what I should do … but sadly, don’t. Again, diet and exercise determine largely our weight changes over a lifetime. Limiting alcohol can also make a difference.

Organ Aging.  The brain, heart, lungs, skin are all affected by aging. The heart is like an engine, it can go and go but eventually it is going to stop. Scientists are learning that our heart is not necessarily aging but changing to support our age.

When we are young, the heart must pump more blood to the working muscles but as we age the walls of the left ventricle thicken and the heart fills slower, adapting to less volume of blood needed.

Aging can also affect our lungs. Our diaphragm becomes weaker, our ribcage thinner not allowing for as much expansion. Joints can be affected by painful arthritis. Aging on the digestive system from the esophagus to the large intestine is not so much an issue beyond stomach lining with intolerance to food like dairy products. Drugs for other health issues can cause problems. A decrease in the contractions of the rectum causing constipation in the elderly is about it.

Our bodies are amazing and I think most of us have forgotten that over the years trying to live our hectic lives. I want to be around for a long time but not as a burden to my children. I would like to be healthy and enjoy the time I have left. It will be hard, but worth it.

Top photo of the Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego by Tim Forkes
Many people engage in activities like surfing well past
the age of 60 and seem to defy the aging process