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Challenges Of Aging Process

Introduction

The aging process is inevitable, with every individual having to experience this natural occurrence. Aging process in human is dependent upon environmental factors and how an individual leads his life, while genetic factor is significant in influencing the process of aging.

Healthy aging refers to lessening or deferring the undesired effect of aging. The greatest challenge as we age is the prevention of physical disability and the extension of active life expectancy.

Fundamental Issues

   

Biological Issues

  1. Functional decline due to aging are result of loss of muscle mass, changes in balance, loss of flexibility affecting mobility, impairment of senses and other factors that can impact on daily activity.
  2. Despite advances in health care, many elders suffer from multiple progressive diseases which impaired their activities of daily living and decrease the quality of life. Accessibility to quality health care is crucial to manage the health of the elderly.
  3. Many older people fear falling as falls often causes injuries. A person’s physical condition like vision problems, weakness, loss of bone density, loss of balance and side effects of medications has a greater effect on risk of falling than environmental hazards such as slippery floors, poor lighting, uneven sidewalks or objects that are in the way.
  4. Many older people experience visual impairment due to aging itself or consequent of underlying illnesses. Vision loss can contribute to significant injury, exposure to danger and impaired functional activity.
  5. Hearing loss interferes with an elder person’s ability to hear and comprehend speech, causing them to avoid social interactions and in despair. Moreover, a hearing disabled person will not be able to hear fire alarm, warning shouts of danger or vehicle horning sound.
  6. Often, dietary requirement of older people need to be adapted to their medical condition or physical status. They may be forced to give up food they enjoyed. As a result, they may lose weight or develop a nutritional deficiency. Hence, nutritional advice on maintaining a balanced diet without causing discomfort or harm should be provided.
  7. With advancement of age, there might be a subtle decline in the learning, judgment and memory ability. However, some might suffer from dementia, a clinical syndrome associated with a progressive loss of memory and other intellectual functions that can interfere with social, occupational functioning and activity of daily living.

Psychological Issues

  1. Depression and anxiety are common mental health disorders that affect the elderly due to adversities caused by physical illness, changes in the body, financial constraints, isolation, poor social support and other stressful life events. Fortunately, depression and anxiety disorder can be effectively treated.
  2. As we age, our sleep patterns almost always changes. Older people tend to get sleepy earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning. Inability to fall or remain asleep is common among older people. Sleeping tablets abuse and dependence can cause harmful long term effect.
  3. Elderly mistreatment in the form of physical, psychological, sexual or financial abuse may occur as a single form or in combination of two or more types. Possible indications of physical abuse include unexplained and suspicious injuries. Psychological abuse is the use of words or actions to cause emotional anguish. Sexual abuse should not be disregarded. Financial exploitation can occur as an older person is vulnerable to being cheated when they seek help with finances or properties.
  4. ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ is a sense of loss the elderly might experience when their last child leave home to live elsewhere.
  5. Death and dying are part of aging. As we age, we confront the end of life. Some may face mortality with a prolonged sense of anxiety and fear. Furthermore, many have to endure deaths of loved ones and friends.
  6. Although many may look forward to retirement, others fear its approach and resent the economic problems, boredom, diminished role in society and loss of self esteem caused by retirement.
  7. Living alone can be a common situation for the elderly, especially after losing a spouse and the children lives elsewhere, leading to loneliness and isolation. Relocation, to be near or with family and relatives may be an option, preferably living in housing with facilities for the elderly and easy access to public transportation.

Social Issues

  1. An elderly person with limited mobility or disability due to aging would require a caregiver to assist with his or her daily routine.
  2. Having a strong support system in old age is beneficial. Individuals who maintain close relationships with their families or friends cope better as they age.
  3. Pensioners have the advantage of a stable source of monthly income whereas many senior citizens without regular monetary fund would constantly worry about depleting their life savings or being a burden to their children.
  4. Aging can influence the expression of intimacy in a relationship. Bodily changes due to aging impinge on self-esteem and sense of sexual attraction. Even failing health can limit or drain intimate relationships.

A healthy lifestyle comprising healthy eating habits, regular exercises, maintaining physical and mental wellbeing, staying active and independent while avoiding illnesses are essential factors for successful aging and longevity. Having a positive outlook will enable us to overcome difficulties, illnesses and personal losses while living our life to the fullest.

 

Last Reviewed : 3 Disember 2013
Writer : Dr. Chin Loi Fei