Aging and Adulthood
August 5th, 2013
Dennis Daugherty, LMFT, MSCIS
Aging and Adulthood
Since the 1900’s, life expectancy has increased by an average of 30 years, today the average women will live to be 80.7 years old and the average man will live to be 75.4 years old. At the age of 75 years old, 61 percent of the people are females and by the age of 85, 70 percent are females. Many men die from these leading causes of death: cancer of the respiratory system, motor vehicle accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema, and coronary heart disease. By having the extra X-chromosome women have more resistance to infections and degenerative diseases. Life expectancy is the number of years that a person born in a particular year will probably live. Life span, on the other hand, is the maximum number of years an individual can live, and that remains at approximately 120 to 125 years of age. Physical and Cognitive Development
As we age there is a natural decline in both the physical and cognitive nature of the human being. There is a loss of height, decline in vision and hearing, and cardiovascular decline. Sleep becomes problematic as well for the aging adult. There is a reduction in the production of some neurotransmitters including acetylcholine, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which may be a cause of reduced memory function. Physical
Whether male or female, there is a tendency to lose height as we age. Height loss is related to aging changes in the bones, muscles, and joints. For every 10 years after the age of 40, we tend to lose about 0.4 inches and the rate of loss is even more rapid after the age of 70. As you age, you may lose a total of 1 to 3 inches in height.
Your lifestyle choices affect how quickly the aging process takes place. It is important to get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, limit the amount of alcohol you drink, and avoid tobacco and illicit drugs. Also, less muscle in the legs and stiffer joints, which can be improved with exercise, can make moving around harder. Increase in body fat and changes in body shape also affect your balance making falls more likely.
As we age, there is a decrease in all of our senses such as hearing and vision, affecting the aging adult with greater impact. Hearing loss not only affects our understanding of the spoken word, but balance as well. Balance is controlled in the inner ear, fluid and small hairs within the inner ear stimulate the auditory nerve. This helps the brain maintain balance.
All of the eye’s structures change with aging. The sharpness of vision gradually declines and focusing the eyes on some things close becomes difficult. Common eye disorders in the aging adult include: cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic and hypertensive retinopathy. My mother had macular degeneration and that lead to depression for my mom. She was unable to do the one thing she loved, such as reading, and without that she became depressed. She felt that with reading she could go anywhere her mind would take her and she was able to continue to learn. Not being able to read took a large portion of her life away.
The senses affect the physical as well as the cognitive development in the aging adult. With the reduction in sensory stimuli everyday normal activity may be affected, such as bathing and grooming, conversely, doing household chores, engaging in intellectual activities, and even watching television, and this can reduce cognitive activity. The lower speed at which information is processed may be due to deficits in working memory and other cognitive tasks and may have detrimental effects on more complex tasks. Tasks with high attentional demands show impairments whereas routine tasks requiring little or no attention are therefore easier.
Estimates suggest that as many as 5 percent of those age 65 have dementia. What aren’t these supposed to be the golden years. For the...
References: Development Across the Life Span (2008). Feldman, Robert S. Prentice Hall (5th ed.).
The Breakthrough Blog (July 2013). Retrieved from http://Breakthrough.com
Aging and Cognitive Function (2007). Retrieved from http//:Clevelandclinic.org
MedlinePlus (2011). Retrieved from http//:nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus.htm
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