Monday, September 5, 2016

The Elderly

So you are getting older? Be thankful you made it this far. Some of us haven’t.
Now as a senior citizen what do you have to look forward to?
Senior citizen is a common euphemism for an old person used in American English, When defined in an official context, senior citizen is often used for legal or policy-related reasons in determining who is eligible for certain benefits available to the age group.
Old age refers to ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings, and is thus the end of the human life cycle.
Old people often have limited regenerative abilities and are more susceptible to disease, syndromes, and sickness than younger adults. The organic process of ageing is called senescence, the medical study of the aging process is called gerontology, and the study of diseases that afflict the elderly is called geriatrics.
Most developed Western countries set the age of 60 to 65 for retirement. Being 60–65 years old is usually a requirement for becoming eligible for senior social programs.
Gerontologists have recognized the very different conditions that people experience as they grow older within the years defined as old age. In developed countries, most people in there 60s and early 70s are still fit, active, and able to care for themselves. However, after 75, they will become increasingly frail, a condition marked by serious mental and physical debilitation.
The distinguishing characteristics of old age are both physical and mental. A basic mark of old age that affects both body and mind is “slowness of behavior.” This “slowing down principle” finds a correlation between advancing age and slowness of reaction and physical and mental task performance.  Physical marks of old age include the following:
* Bone and joint. “Thinning and shrinkage” mark old bones. This results in a loss of height (about two inches by age 80), a stooping posture in many people, and a greater susceptibility to bone and joint diseases such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
* Chronic diseases. Older persons have at least one chronic condition and many have multiple conditions. In 2007-2009, the most frequently occurring conditions among older persons in the United States were uncontrolled hypertension (34%), diagnosed arthritis (50%), and heart disease (32%).
* Chronic mucus hypersecretion (CMH) “defined as coughing and bringing up sputum . . . is a common respiratory symptom in elderly persons.”
* Dental problems. Less saliva and less ability for oral hygiene in old age increases the chance of tooth decay and infection.
* Digestive system. About 40% of the time, old age is marked by digestive disorders such as difficulty in swallowing, inability to eat enough and to absorb nutrition, constipation and bleeding.
* Essential Tremor (ET) is an uncontrollable shaking in a part of the upper body. It is more common in the elderly and symptoms worsen with age.
* Eyesight. Diminished eyesight makes it more difficult to read in low lighting and in smaller print. Speed with which an individual reads and the ability to locate objects may also be impaired.
* Falls. Old age spells risk for injury from falls that might not cause injury to a younger person. Every year, about one-third of those 65 years old and over half of those 80 years old fall. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death for old people.
* Gait change. Some aspects of gait normally change with old age. Gait velocity slows after age 70. Double stance time (i.e., time with both feet on the ground) also increases with age. Because of gait change, old people sometimes appear to be walking on ice.
* Hair usually becomes thinner and grayer.
* Hearing. By age 75 and older, 48% of men and 37% of women encounter impairments in hearing. Of the 26.7 million people over age 50 with a hearing impairment, only one in seven uses a hearing aid.
* Hearts are less efficient in old age with a resulting loss of stamina. In addition, atherosclerosis can constrict blood flow.
* Immune function. Less efficient immune function (Immunosenescence) is a mark of old age.
* Lungs expand less well; thus, they provide less oxygen.
* Mobility impairment or loss. “Impairment in mobility affects 14% of those between 65 and 74, but half of those over 85.” Loss of mobility is common old people. This inability to get around has serious “social, psychological, and physical consequences”.
* Pain afflicts old people at least 25% of the time, increasing with age up to 80% for those in nursing homes. Most pains are rheumatological or malignant.
* Sexuality remains important throughout the lifespan and the sexual expression of ‘typical, healthy older persons are a relatively neglected topic of research’. Sexual attitudes and identity are established in early adulthood and change minimally over the course of a lifetime. However, sexual drive in both men and women decreases as they age. People aged 75–102 continue to experience sensuality and sexual pleasure.
* Skin loses elasticity, becomes drier, and more lined and wrinkled.
* Sleep trouble holds a chronic prevalence of over 50% in old age and results in daytime sleepiness.
* Taste buds diminish so that by age 80 taste buds are down to 50% of normal. Food becomes less appealing and nutrition can suffer.
* Urinary incontinence is often found in old age.
* Voice. In old age, vocal cords weaken and vibrate more slowly. This results in a weakened, breathy voice that is sometimes called an “old person’s voice.”
* Adaptable describe most people in their old age. In spite the stressfulness of old age, they are described as “agreeable” and “accepting.” However, old age dependence induces feelings of “incompetence” and “worthlessness”.
* Caution marks old age. Old people have less to gain and more to lose by taking risks than younger people.
* Depressed mood. When people are prejudiced against the elderly and then become old themselves, their anti-elderly prejudice turns inward, causing depression. “People with more negative age stereotypes will likely have higher rates of depression as they get older.”
* Fear of crime in old age, especially among the frail, sometimes weighs more heavily than concerns about finances or health and restricts what they do. The fear persists in spite of the fact that old people are victims of crime less often than younger people.
* Mental disorders afflict about 15% of people aged 60+ according to estimates by the World Health Organization.
* Reduced mental and cognitive ability afflicts old age. Memory loss is common in old age due to the decrease in speed of information being encoded, stored, and retrieved. It takes more time to learn new information. Dementia is a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Its prevalence increases in old age from about 10% at age 65 to about 50% over age 85. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Demented behavior can include wandering, physical aggression, verbal outbursts, depression, and psychosis.
* Set in one’s ways describes a mindset of old age. Old age prefers a “routine”. Old age takes a toll on the “fluid intelligence” and relies on a “more deeply entrenched familiarity”.
So does it suck to get old? What is the alternative?
So while there is still cognizance look ahead to what is to come.
Prepare a will? Talk to your children with hopes they will care for you better than you cared for you parents. Cover the grandchildren with gifts to persuade them you are worth remembering. Throw away all that trash your kids will have to go through and never understand the meaning of it. Your yard sale is not worth much to the next generation. Check your meds and see what you need to increase and what you just need to throw away for it will not save you. Start wearing comfortable clothing for you are no longer a fashion statement.
Get ready to be a Geezer. Recognize your statements will not be listened to and you will be assigned to the ‘old cot corner’ like some child who misbehaved. Learn to eat soft food. Pee in your pants. Take more naps. Trade in your skateboards and surf boards for canes and walkers. Learn that getting down is easy; getting back up is hard. Find out stairs are not your friends. Forget that old adage of ‘respecting your elders’; that ain’t going to happen. 
You are deteriorating and there is no way out.
Hope I die before I get old.

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