Are You Aging Normally? - Mature Health Center

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Are You Aging Normally?

Are You Aging Normally?

Do you ever wonder if the changes you’ve noticed in yourself are part of “normal aging?” And just what is normal aging anyway?

In a recent Kaiser Health News article, Dr. Thomas Gill, a geriatric professor at Yale University, and three geriatric experts drew upon their decades of practice and the latest medical data to identify examples of what are often — but not always — considered to be signposts of normal aging for people who practice good health habits, including preventative care.

  • In your 50s, stamina declines. If you’ve huffed and puffed a little harder going up the stairs, this is no surprise to you.
  • In your 60s, your susceptibility increases. That’s why doctors recommend vaccinations for flu, pneumonia and shingles for anyone age 65 and older.
  • In your 70s, chronic conditions worsen. From hypertension to dementia, this decade is when you might see decline.
  • In your 80s, the fear of falling is a defining signpost, with 40% of people living at home falling at least once each year.
  • In your 90s and up, relying on others is common. But, as the article points out, many older people have reached a point of satisfaction, too.

Hope in Research

Don’t despair about these mile markers on the journey of aging. Advances in science and medicine continue to shed light on the aging process and how you can influence it.

Just recently, researchers at Harvard Medical School say they’ve reversed a sign of aging in mice. We become less able to grow new blood vessels in our muscles as we age, decreasing our endurance and increasing frailty. The same is true of mice. The researchers identified a chemical compound that in mice can indirectly stimulate a gene associated with the growth of new blood vessels. While there’s no evidence the chemical will have a similar effect in humans, the research could lead to a new drug for human use.

Exercise and Aging

Until then, one of the best things you can do to counteract the effects of aging is exercise —aerobic exercise and strength training. Whether it’s tai chi, swimming, walking or cycling, you can find a form of exercise to address your aging concerns.

Strength training like tai chi can improve balance, helping you prevent falls, for example. Falls are a leading cause of injury and death among people age 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But strength training does more than just help with balance — it can prevent bone loss, help alleviate joint pain and boost energy. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently issued new recommendations to prevent falls and fractures in older adults, and exercise topped the list. 

"[For] a 65-year-old who is having some concerns of falls but is also pretty active, a group exercise program of Tai Chi at the community rec center might work very well," Dr. Alex Krist, a professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and vice chair of the task force, said in an interview with CBS News.

 Watch this video for seven strength, balance and flexibility exercises.