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Sensorimotor, Cognitive and Psychological Changes of Aging

Lifespan changes in the coordination between the sensorimotor and cognitive aspects of behavior occur with an increase in age. Perfect concurrent and coordination of sensorimotor and cognitive sensory inputs are demanded in everyday life for body balance and simple memorization of facts. Older people tend to experience problems in perfectly executing such sensorimotor and cognitive activities such as maintaining the body balance while riding in a bus, memorizing directions in the city and even remembering the exact location of a friend’s house. Functional health status inventory reveals that while 75-year-old male assessed was able to carry a number of duties, the perfect ability to undertake duties such as shopping and driving himself to the shopping facilities and carrying the shopping purchase from store to car and from car to home were hampered. This reveals that mobility and perfect functionality such as body balance were affected by aging.

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Functionality and mobility

The ability for older persons to remain actively mobile and execute day-to-day duties is affected by aging. This is due to the reductions in flexibility, body strength and other complications brought about by aging diseases such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s. This affects the general body balance, functionality, and mobility in that the ability to remain actively mobile must be accompanied by the ability to maintain perfect body balance. Impulses and reflexes must be properly executed to maintain body balance and provide enough strength for functionality and mobility to occur. In older people, these aspects are hampered by the reductions in the number of active body cells and aging diseases.

Cognitive abilities

The increase in the number of deaths that result from driving in the older age brackets is higher than those in the lower age bracket. Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle (DHSMV)(2004) provides statistics by revealing that “Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among 65 to 74year-olds and are the second leading cause (after falls) among 75 and 84 year-olds”. This explains the need to provide enough education to this age bracket on the dangers of driving alone. The inability to personally drive a car is brought about a number of complications that include visual impairment that affects the general functioning dynamic and static acuity, the sensitivity of the glare and reduced contrast sensitivity. Furthermore, the body balance and functionality are affected by reductions in flexibility, body strength and other complications brought about by aging diseases such as arthritis and Alzheimer. “Driving requires judgment and perception to merge into traffic lanes or make left turns across a stream of oncoming vehicles and pedestrians”.(Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle, 2004). The ability to accurately detect the gap between two objects changes with age. “Visual acuity, visual fields, night vision, contrast sensitivity, and other vision functions are affected by age and disease-related changes of the eye and brain”. (Ball, Owsley, Sloane, Roenker & Bruni, 1993).

The decrease in the amount of water and nutrients in the body results into lack of enough lubricants such as saliva and mucus that interferes with the coordination of body muscles among the aged. Cognitive abilities are also affected by age. This includes the cognitive changes in the working memory, the processing speed of deterioration and selective selection. In addition to that, it involves problem-solving techniques, conceptual; understanding and emotional development. In the processes that define aging, brain cells that aid in the development of personality, language acquisition, self-concept and identity information wear out and eventually fail to send impulses and reflexes accurately. Such are the results of aging on those cognitive abilities.

Psychological characteristics

A good fraction of the psychological characteristics of the aging process is as a result of the genes that we possess. The ability to deal with stress, disease and deteriorating health conditions, death of a spouse in life are often aggravated in older people. The failing ability to deal with levels of anxiety, headaches and ulcers in aging affects the psychological aspects of one in this age bracket. “Older adults must often face a great number of stresses that can be caused by a broad range of events and situations” (The AGS Foundation for Health and Aging, 2005). Sensorimotor, cognitive and psychological all take place in a coordinated and interrelated manner, and as such a failure on one definitely affects the functionality of the other. Psychological effects are directly related to brain functions while aging affects the overall ability of the brain to send accurate signals through the right cells for the ability to handle the effects of anxiety and other psychological aspects of humans.

This is further slowed down by the decreased functioning of the nervous system. The transmission of the nerve impulses is improperly executed in that the reflexes are not fast and sharp. In addition to that, the ability to learn from past experiences and effectively deal with the current psychological problems is diminished due to a lack of impulse coordination and poor memory. Furthermore, for the ability to effectively handle psychological problems, the body must be able to absorb enough oxygen for respiratory purposes and nutrients for efficient body development and functions. Aging alters the perfect cardiovascular and respiratory systems. This then leads to reduced levels of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and thus improper and uncoordinated performances of various body parts and organs.

Polypharmacy issues

“Polypharmacy means “many drugs” and refers to problems that can occur when a patient is taking more medications than are actually needed” (University of Chicago, 2009). University of Chicago (2009) further expounds that “it still remains an issue with the aging client in that statistics reveal that close to 13% of the total population account for almost 305% of all prescribed drugs”. The usage of unrestricted combinations of drugs can lead to unwanted drug interactions that may lead to the development of new diseases and complicate the medical handling of existing conditions.

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Polypharmacy issues and injury to aging among older people must be taken seriously to reduce the levels of deaths and injuries. These are responsible for a larger fraction of deaths and injuries among this group in the world over. Legislations that govern the activities in regard to combinations of drug intake of this group is best enhanced to protect them sudden deaths and injuries.

References

Ball K, Owsley C, Sloane M.E., Roenker D.L., Bruni J.R. (1993). Visual attention problems as a predictor of vehicle crashes in older drivers, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 34, pp. 3110-3123.

Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle (DHSMV) (2004). The Effects of Aging on Driving Ability Report. Web.

The AGS Foundation for Health and Aging ( 2005). Aging in the Know. Web.

University of Chicago (2009).Polypharmacy in Older Adults. Web.

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