Natural Aging: What’s Normal vs. What’s Not

February 15, 2024 | Senior Health
natural aging

It’s no secret: your mind and body will change over time, and as you get older, you’ll begin to feel more of the effects of aging. But what changes are normal, and which could indicate any potential health issues? Understanding the natural aging process can empower us to take proactive steps towards ensuring that our 60s, 70s and beyond are truly the best years of our lives.

Astral at Franklin’s senior living team wants to make sure you have the knowledge you need to understand the physical, mental and cognitive aspects of natural aging so you can navigate this exciting journey ahead. 

Physical Health

Muscle Mass and Strength

It’s natural to lose about 10% to 15% of your muscle mass over your lifetime; muscle loss can occur for many reasons, whether hormonal or natural changes to muscle fibers. 

When it comes to severe loss of muscle mass, otherwise known as sarcopenia, this is an unnatural occurrence that can be the result of a lack of physical activity or another health condition. To avoid or at least delay age-related muscle loss, be sure to regularly participate in some form of exercise two to three times a week that includes:

  • Strength training
  • Resistance
  • Cardio

Digestive System

Older adults tend to be less hungry than younger generations, but about 30% of older adults don’t consume enough calories. This is due to the loss of flexibility and stretchiness in older stomachs, which causes them to empty at a slower rate and cause feelings of fullness more quickly. 

To avoid issues with metabolizing proper nutrients, talk to your doctor about supplements like calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D and vitamin B6.

Bones

The loss of bone mass is common in every adult over the age of 50. While the weakening of bones doesn’t happen in all people, older adults are more likely to develop conditions like osteopenia or osteoporosis, where bones become weak and are more prone to breaks and injuries.

Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about bone loss, even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms. For women, it’s crucial to start getting bone density checked starting at age 65, and men should start getting these checkups at age 70. 

Brain Health

Did you know that your brain actually begins to shrink in your 30s and 40s? It’s a strange concept to think about, but this natural process happens as blood flow begins to occur less and the connections between nerve cells in the brain begin to slow down with time. 

This shrinkage begins to quicken around the age of 60 and can cause normal memory lapses when it comes to attention span, learning new information and finding the right words during conversations. However, the part of your brain that stores vocabulary and general knowledge tends to stay the same with age – in some cases, it even gets stronger! The same goes for abstract thinking and the ability to think about complex ideas. 

So, how do you keep your brain healthy and sharp over time? Engaging in regular mental stimulation is key to keeping these changes in check. For example, staying connected and social can keep your mind active and help you feel less isolated by finding a sense of purpose. Participating in brain teasers and puzzles is also an excellent way to challenge your brain and improve function – plus, it’s a fun activity to implement into your daily routine!

Finding Solutions

At nearly every turn, whether we’re watching television or browsing the aisles of a grocery store, people are bombarded with products and quick fixes that promise to completely reverse the effects of aging and keep us healthy, young and fit. 

While you can’t stop the natural aging process, you can make choices to improve your ability to maintain an active and fulfilling lifestyle. In addition, these healthy choices are also meant to empower you to embrace aging!

Astral at Franklin is here to help you take that next step with senior living in Franklin, Indiana, by promoting healthy and active aging that empowers and boosts your wellness. We invite you to explore our website for more information and contact us to schedule your tour!


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