The aim of this study was to examine the physical changes that occur during normal aging, along with common chronic diseases and diseases that are associated with pathological changes in the elderly. According to Haldemann and Wister (2019), “for more than 30 years, the interface of aging and the environment has been on the agenda of researchers in social gerontology” (p. 36). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with one resident of the United States, her age is 71 years. Interviews were recorded verbatim and subjected to inductive analysis. Relevant questions were selected in order to cover the topic adequately.
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The results showed a rather interesting aging effect. According to Seah et al. (2019), “attitudes to aging have been linked with important health outcomes.” As a result of these historical and social factors, leisure-time physical activity was not a part of the participant’s life after retirement. Strategies for aging successfully include being busy, but being busy does not mean being physically active in your free time. The results demonstrated the importance of developing a broader understanding of how past and present contexts can influence leisure-time physical activity participation. This work presents the answers to the questions posed to the woman, which are also explained using theories and available scientific works in this area.
Physical and Health-Related Aspects
Physical and Biological Age
At the moment, the woman is 71 years old, and she is retired. The respondent has worked in a bank and, in principle, does not complain about his well-being. She has two sons who have a good life and career. However, due to a relatively sedentary lifestyle, she has problems with her back and, in general, with physical support. She does not feel young because of these problems; however, she does not perceive herself at 70 years old; she feels like she is 50-60 years old. According to Lim et al. (2021), “old age is only lonely or depressing depending upon external circumstances, but that life is what you make of it.” Physical age is the length of time that has elapsed between your birth and the specified date. It is the age in years, months, and days. This is the most common method for individuals to measure their age. It is also a significant cause of permanent illnesses, death, and deficits in physiological functioning, including hearing and cognition.
The underlying concept behind psychological age is that aging happens as a result of progressive damage to numerous cells and tissues in the body. Biological age, also known as functional age, varies from chronological age in that it considers factors besides the day of birth. The exact number is determined by many physiological and biological growth variables.
Due to back problems, a woman does not feel completely healthy; she has an awareness that she needs to take care of herself; however, at this age, it is already difficult to do this. Thus, she feels the level of her health at 6 out of 10, which of course indicates sufficient confidence in her health, however, with the assumption that there are problems. Pathological and clinical measurements can be used to assess health state, which is generally seen or quantified by physicians. More accurately, physical health may be described as the spectrum of illness manifestations in a patient presenting, involving symptoms, impaired functioning, and life quality, where the quality of life is defined as the difference between the desired and actual performance. Assessment of their health can be deceiving in many ways if a person does not know the actual diagnoses or tries to avoid them. Not all people try to accept their problems and deceive themselves with all their might that they are still in good health. Thus, we can say that the assessment of one’s health is the most subjective indicator.
Comparison with Other People
The woman answered this question somewhat uncertainly. She said that she was sure that there are people who are healthier than her but did not say that, unfortunately, most of the elderly have more severe problems than her. As a result of the discussion of this issue, the woman said that she assesses her health as average, she is not worried about such serious health problems as her friends. It was said above that; unfortunately, not all people can objectively assess their health status. Thus, we can say that the assessment of their health is also subjective because the external signs of a healthy person do not always indicate that they are healthy.
Regular Physical Activity
At the moment, the woman is engaged in walking, and she considers it a universal way to support health. This indicates that she is concerned about her state of health. She tries to go out for long walks every day, but sometimes she does not succeed due to urgent matters. Walking is perhaps one of the most straightforward and most efficient kinds of training for seniors. Walking is a simple approach to improving the immune system. Walking, despite its minimal impact, is a full-body workout that helps muscles and joints. Walking offers several advantages for the elderly. It can help people live independently for more extended periods of time by improving their health and well-being in a variety of ways. The further footsteps a person does every day, the more upbeat their mentality and perspective become. One main reason for the link might be that walking automatically releases endorphins and promotes circular breathing, both of which contribute to favorable emotional effects.
as little as 3 hours
Physical Activity Problems
The woman claims that although walking is an excellent way to maintain her health, she complains of back pain after a long walk. This suggests that, unfortunately, she chose not the best activity for herself as a sport. Long periods of walking and standing can fatigue or stress the muscles in the lower back and shoulders, resulting in physical symptoms. This discomfort typically goes away when you sit or lie down to relax your back. Overweight people are more likely to experience muscular tiredness when standing and walking. Walking is one of the most effective things people can do for persistent chronic low back pain. Walking for ten to fifteen minutes twice a day might help relieve back and shoulder discomfort. If a person wants and is able, they may replace this activity with a more vigorous exercise.
Hobbies and Interests
At the moment, a woman is fond of knitting; for her, it is creativity and a way to express herself. In theory, she would like to sell her products or show them at exhibitions, but at the moment, she has not so much experience. This hobby is physically inactive, which suits the lifestyle of our respondent, but not for health reasons. She thought about something active, but so far, she could not decide on such a step. Knitting is an excellent pastime for retirees in many areas; it benefits the brain, body, and spirit. Many elders are worried about cognitive problems, which can vary from minor forgetfulness to more severe health concerns like Alzheimer’s. The most excellent method to keep the mind sharp is to stretch it on a routine basis, and knitting is an excellent choice for this.
The woman said that her chosen hobby suits her well for the given period of time when she has already retired and does not strive for physical activity. This suggests that her hobby suits her as she believes that she should be limited to something safe and not particularly active. Knitting perfectly supports memory, vision, and motor skills, which is essential at such an age when you need to monitor every aspect of life. Many people’s physical limitations worsen as they become older. With increasing age, the probability of having one or more physical restrictions increases, as does the odds of getting three or more physical limitations. The frequency of physical restrictions varies by ethnicity, gender, and level of education. Physical restrictions are more common in individuals with less than high school graduation than in persons with a high school diploma. The social and economic consequences of an early start of functional impairment in sectors of an aging population and the consequent need to offer supporting services at a younger age, possibly for a longer length of time, put significant responsibilities on the person, the family, and community.
Pain During Activities
As previously said, the woman walks, but after each lengthy walk, she gets back pain; after each walk, the degree of pain is different. Extended exercising and walking can cause weariness or stress in the lower spine and shoulder pain, resulting in physical complaints. When people sit or lie down to relax the back, this ache usually goes away. Low back pain (LBP) is the most frequent health condition that causes pain and impairment in older persons. While the majority of causes of LBP in older persons are non-specific and self-limiting, retirees are more likely to acquire specific LBP pathologies and chronic LBP due to age-related physical and psychological changes. Various age-related physiological, emotional, and cognitive alterations, as well as a number of risk factors, may all have an impact on the prognosis and management of LBP in older persons.
Hearing and Vision Issues
At the moment, the woman wears glasses, as she has worked all her life with documents and reading, which affected her vision. Unfortunately, the hearing has deteriorated with age, but additional aids are not required. While knitting, the woman says that she notices eye fatigue little by little and takes a break. Hearing as a tool in a hobby is absent, so there are no additional complaints. Millions of people suffer from developmental disabilities, with vision and hearing problems being the most common. With a growing aging population, it is critical to be aware of sensory deficits in the older adult population. Loss of vision and hearing, in particular, has a profound influence on the quality of life. Recognizing the incidence and significance of these impairments is critical for assisting patients in preserving and maintaining a high standard of living.
Hearing and vision issues are rarely apparent limitations, but they might lead to misinterpretation or misunderstanding. An older person with eyesight issues, for example, may look frightened, reluctant, or bewildered when presented with a new circumstance. Furthermore, older adults with hearing impairment may overlook the subtleties of speech and look confused, causing unnecessary frustration on the side of those with whom they are conversing. These encounters might lead to feelings of loneliness, disillusionment, and dissatisfaction.
When vision and hearing declines transcend the expected age-related effects induced by ocular disease, they may start to jeopardize an older person’s ability to carry out ordinary tasks that characterize roles in society and standard of living. The most basic and routine chores might be hampered by either hearing or visual loss. The loss of sensory function may impair one’s ability to hear whispered discussions or side comments, scribble notes, read the news, and detect facial gestures.
Hearing loss is linked to lower cognitive and psychological deficits, more significant social exclusion, anxiety, and dementia rates; it is also linked to rapid cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s. Reduced vision and hearing are linked to lower quality of life, higher physical impairment in females, instability, accidents, broken hip, and death. In terms of monitoring, investigation, and intervention design, understanding the degree of sensory impairments in the older US population and the influence of these alterations on this population’s activities are critical to public policy and the spread of diseases.
According to the woman, she was diagnosed with a herniated disc about ten years ago, which did not surprise her. She understood that her lifestyle could lead to this, and she was mentally prepared. For her, this was another reason to think about her health since she had not been diagnosed with anything like this before, and all diseases were associated more with colds and flu. Discs in the back cushion the bones that make up the spine. These discs have a solid outer shell that forms a protective and are spherical, like little pillows. Discs, which are located between every vertebra in the vertebral canal, serve as suspension systems for the spine vertebrae. A herniated disc is a portion of the disc nucleus that has pushed through a tear or rupture in the annulus into the spinal canal. Discs that herniate are frequently at a preliminary phase of atrophy. The space in the spinal canal is insufficient for the spinal nerve and the displaced herniated disc fragment. Because of this dislocation, the disc pushes on nerve roots, causing discomfort that can be intense. Herniated discs can occur in any part of the spine. Herniated discs are more prevalent in the lower back; the location of discomfort depends on which section of the spine is damaged.
A herniated disc can be caused by a single severe strain or injury. However, as one age, the disc material degenerates gradually, and the tendons that keep it in place deteriorate. As the degeneration advances, a minor strain or twisting action might rupture a disc. Individuals who are predisposed to disc disorders may develop herniated discs in many locations throughout the spine. According to studies, there may be a genetic susceptibility to herniated discs in families with several afflicted individuals.
The symptoms vary widely depending on the position and size of the herniated disc. If the disc herniation is not pushing on a nerve, the patient may feel a dull aching or no discomfort at all. If it presses on a neuron, it may cause pain, tingling, or stiffness in the part of the body where the nerve travels. A herniated disc is typically followed by a bout of low back pain or a lengthy history of periodic bouts of back pain.
Radiculopathy is commonly caused by a disc herniation in the lower spine. Compression on one or more nerves that belong to the peripheral nerves can result in pain, scorching, stinging, and tingling radiating from the buttock through the leg and, in rare cases, into the foot. Typically, just one side is impacted. This type of pain is frequently characterized as intense and electrical shock-like. Standing, walking, or sitting may make it worse. Smoothing the afflicted leg can typically aggravate the discomfort. Low back pain may accompany leg discomfort; nevertheless, in the case of severe sciatica, the pain in the leg is frequently more significant than the discomfort in the lower spine.
The Disease that Causes the Most Trouble
To this question, the woman convincingly answered that it was a hernia. Because of it, she has to experience pain after long walks, as well as adjust to the disease because she is not eager to be treated. The woman believes that everything can heal itself. Loss of vision worries her much less because she began to wear glasses, which, according to her, well compensate for her vision. Hearing for her is a more significant loss than sight; however, her hearing is not strained much in her environment and everyday life. Many older people do not try to follow up properly, not considering it necessary. Treating various diseases for them can be expensive financially, even if they have successfully raised the next generation. Thus, it is possible to understand the interviewed woman.
Main Changes Throughout Life
According to her, the woman worked in a bank; she has had a pretty good career throughout her life. She has friends, children, and a husband who do their best to support her and her decisions. Thus, it is understandable why no one sent the woman for treatment; she does not want this yet. She says that she remembers her 30 years as one of the most active, when she worked hard, raised her sons, and was also engaged in self-development. Of course, from that time on, her hearing and vision loss began to progress, which led to the fact that she began to wear glasses. However, this trend is observed in most older people. There was also a change in the perception of the ears. It deteriorated as well as vision due to the onset of old age.
How Changes Affect Life
Unfortunately, the deterioration in health led to a general deterioration in the perception of life, according to the interviewee. After many years of continuous work and social life, she settled in her home and began to live more calmly and passively. As a hobby, she decided to take up knitting, and she goes out most often for minimal health support by shopping for food. The deterioration of her vision led to the fact that she does not recognize a person from afar, and she must be carefully greeted and select actions so as not to scare her. The rumor also made itself felt; the woman quite often asks what they say to her. These aspects significantly slowed down the overall pace of her life, which she got used to overtime. From an ambitious social worker, the woman has become a housewife who takes care of herself and her husband, she says.
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What Behaviors Can Accelerate Aging the Most
The woman noticed that the wrong way of life dramatically accelerates the aging process. Life without physical activity and passive work leads to the fact that it will be difficult for a person in old age. The respondent noticed that she had never smoked, but at her work, the window was always on one side, and the sun left a sunspot on her skin, which affects external aging quite strongly.
In most cases, the chronic diseases or physiological changes that come with aging are already well established in these groups. However, it is clear that aging does not happen overnight; instead, it occurs gradually over a period of decades, much like water affects the shape of riverbanks or stones over time. It is not evident on a day-to-day basis but can be dramatic if several years have passed.
Being able to measure the rate at which people age relatively accurately provides an excellent way to track whether any anti-aging treatment is working or not. Some of these keys to youth probably will not come as a surprise. A healthy diet low in fat and salt, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, having a solid immune system, and exercising regularly are some of the factors in slowing aging; quitting smoking can also make a difference.
Sunspots, also known as sun damage and liver spots, are plain places on the skin formed by years of exposure to the sun. These hyperpigmented patches might appear on the face, back of the palms, or forearms. They usually occur around the age of 40. Individuals with fairer skin, such as Fitzpatrick types 1 and 2, may notice the appearance of sunspots early. The top layers of your skin thin out over aging and contain more minor structural proteins, such as collagen, that provide the skin form. As a result, the hands may become more veiny, thin, and prone to creases. There is no objective criterion for determining when hands begin to seem older, although most individuals notice it around their late thirties and early forties.
As people age, they often get patchy discoloration on their chest. These patches of varying pigmentation, like sunspots, can be produced by solar damage to the cells. This type of hyperpigmentation is not usually associated with age. It can be caused by eczema or other skin disorders that harm the skin’s melanin granules. There is no age group at which this skin disease emerges.
Advice for Young People
Having lived a long enough life, a woman says that one should not rush because everything will come when it is necessary. The main disappointment in terms of health for her was a hernia in her back. She could not even imagine being young that this could happen to her in the future. She advises young people to think about the future not only in terms of finances, but also health because money can be earned, but health. Take care of yourself and play sports; these are the things, according to her, that could save her from such consequences.
To summarize, the purpose of this study was to investigate the physical changes that occur with normal aging, as well as frequent chronic disorders and diseases linked with pathological alterations in the elderly. The woman is 71 years old and retired at the moment; the responder has worked at a bank and, in general, does not express dissatisfaction with his situation. She has two boys who have a wonderful life and a successful career. However, as a result of her somewhat sedentary lifestyle, she struggles with her back.
A lady does not feel entirely healthy because of back difficulties; she is aware that she has to take care of herself; yet, this is already tough at her age. At present, the woman is walking, which she regards as a universal technique to promote health. This demonstrates that she is worried about her health. She attempts to go for long walks every day, but she does not always succeed owing to pressing concerns. Walking is one of the simplest and most effective forms of senior fitness training.
At present, a lady enjoys knitting since it allows her to be creative and express herself. In principle, she would want to sell her items or display them at exhibits, but she lacks expertise at present. This pastime is physically inert, which fits our respondent’s lifestyle, but not for health concerns. She considered doing something active, but she could not make up her mind. The woman stated that her chosen interest suited her well for the time being because she is already retired and does not seek physical activities. This implies that her pastime suits her since she feels she should confine herself to something safe and not highly active.
Exercising and walking for an extended period of time can produce fatigue or tension in the lower spine, as well as shoulder discomfort, resulting in physical complaints. The woman is now wearing glasses since she has spent her entire life working with paperwork and reading, which has damaged her vision. Unfortunately, the hearing has diminished with age, but more hearing aids are not necessary. The woman claims she experiences eye tiredness gradually while knitting and takes a break. There are no further concerns since hearing is not used as a tool in a pastime. Hearing and visual problems are rarely visible restrictions, although they might cause misinterpretation or misunderstanding. When confronted with a new situation, an older person with vision problems, for example, may appear fearful, hesitant, or befuddled.
The woman stated that she was detected with a herniated disc roughly ten years ago, which did not come as a surprise to her. She was psychologically prepared since she was aware that her lifestyle might lead to this. This was another reason for her to be concerned about her health because she had never been diagnosed with anything like this before, and all illnesses were related to respiratory infections. As a result, she must endure pain after long walks and adjust to the sickness since she is unwilling to be treated. The lady thinks that everything has the ability to cure itself. She is less concerned about her eyesight loss now that she has started wearing glasses, which she claims adequately compensate for her vision loss. Hearing is a more severe loss for her than sight; yet, her hearing is not overly stressed in her environment and daily life.
The story of the interviewed woman is not unique; unfortunately, this attitude towards the consequences of neglect of health is manifested in many older people. When they were young, they thought that this would not affect them; however, when old age sets in, all the ailments of life that actually accompanied people throughout their lives appear. My view of the elderly was different; I thought that in most cases, they somehow take care of their health and do not take their diseases for granted. However, the practice has shown that this is how some people behave. I emphasized to myself a lot of things, both professional and personal, about how to act throughout life in order to stay in good shape. At the moment, I thought a lot about my health because most people try not to look into old age but take the fact of illness in old age for granted. Since I do not smoke or drink, regular physical activity will be one of the critical factors for healthy aging.
Haldemann, V., & Wister, A. (2019). Environment and aging. Aging. University of Toronto Press. pp. 36-50
Lim, C., Moak, G., Fortuna, K. L., Bianco, C. L., Shakhau, A., Bruce, M. L., & Bartels, S. (2021). Attitudes and Beliefs on Aging Among Middle-Aged and Older Adults With Serious Mental Illness. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Seah, S. J., Brown, L. J., & Bryant, C. (2019). Efficacy and challenges of a culturally relevant intervention to improve attitudes to aging. Women’s Health, 15, 1745506519846747.