Posted on Aug 10, 2020, 8 p.m.
While the way you grow old will be specific to you, the lifestyle that you live up to that point will play a role in the aging process, but some changes that occur in the 70s are universal due to the result of how the body works. Pure aging shifts happen to everyone who happens to live long enough, some of which can not be avoided, but you can prepare for them if you know what you might expect.
With age, parts of the brain begin to shrink and signalling between certain areas can slow. This means that it may be harder to multitask, pay attention, remember dates/names, or you may struggle to come up with a specific word. While this can also be a sign of something more serious, most times these are just normal changes, typically dementia causes much more severe trouble with memory and everyday tasks.
Your heart also unfortunately is not safe from aging, this vital organ can’t beat as fast during exercise or when you are stressed as it once did. As the walls of the heart become thicker and valves get stiffer, blood may not flow as efficiently, and the heart’s electrical system may start to glitch causing an irregular heartbeat. One of the most common problems is artery plaque buildup, but you can lower the risk of trouble with healthy lifestyle habits which includes not smoking, regular exercise, and following a heart healthy diet.
By the time you hit your 70s age spots and wrinkles may come as no surprise, but you may also start to bruise more and sweat less. As your skin becomes more dry and paperlike, it may become itchy and more easily irritated. Sometimes getting a humidifier can help as can using a gentler soap and moisturizer.
With age the metabolism slows, meaning that you may need to watch those calories to avoid putting on extra weight. Some find that they are not as thirsty or hungry as they once were. As you consume less try to choose foods that contain more nutrients and less calories like fruits and vegetables which can help to avoid deficiencies.
Some people over the age of 65 will develop osteoporosis, as your muscles get weaker the tendons that connect the muscles to the skeleton get stiffer, and this will decrease strength and flexibility. Additionally you can lose an inch or two off of your height as the disks in your back flatten. To prevent these changes and possibly even reverse them exercising will help, especially those that are weight bearing.
People seem to spend less time in a deep sleep and more time in the lighter phase of sleep in elderhood. Some wake up more from sleeping and have trouble going back to sleep. Some experience issues with insomnia, and some go to bed earlier or wake up earlier. Even with these changes in sleep patterns it is important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night, so do what you can to keep good sleep habits and talk to a doctor about any concerns.
Your immune system will lose a step in your 70s leaving you more vulnerable to illness, and even vaccines will not work as well as they once did for you, making it important to keep your immune system boosted as much as possible. When you hit this age allergies and autoimmune disorders are less severe and more rare as a plus.
The digestive system takes a hit too as the stomach lining is more fragile increasing the risk of ulcers, especially for those that take a lot of aspirin or NSAIDs. One of the most common issues at this age is constipation because the digestive system doesn’t move through as effectively as it once did. While medications and lack of exercise may be part of the reason, fiber is your digestive friend.
The bladder will not be able to hold as much as it once did, and the muscles that support it will have lost some strength, meaning that they may not be squeezing when you don’t need to go which can lead to an overactive bladder. All of this can send you to the bathroom more often, and some develop issues with urine leakage.
While you may still have the urge to be sexually active, you may experience changes that cause vaginal dryness or erectile dysfunction as well as other health problems to go along with body image issues and stress playing roles. Just because you are getting up there in years does not mean that you have to give up on sex, talk with your partner and doctor about what is and isn’t enjoyable along with any problems that you may be experiencing.
Your vision will change in your elderhood, the pupils will react more slowly to changes in light because the eye muscles are not as strong as they once were and you will need more time to adjust when moving between light/dark and inside/outside. You may find it hard to pick out fine details because fewer cells are available to send messages from the eyes back to the brain. Additionally the lens gets thicker and more yellow making it harder to see in dim lighting and colours may be less vibrant.
Around one third of those between the ages of 65-74 and about half of those over the age of 70 will experience some form of hearing loss. High pitched sound may be hard to make out, some voices may become hard to hear, background noises may interfere more with conversations, and you may find it harder to hear everyday sounds.
While we can’t run back the clock on aging, yet, there are many ways to stay healthy in your 70s and beyond. As throughout all of your life diet and exercise are very important. Make sure to monitor your health when it comes to watching for symptoms of disease. Remain socially active and challenge your brain to help fight mental decline. Make sure to consult with your doctor or certified medical professional about changes to your hearing, vision, digestion, and any other issues that you may be experiencing to help keep yourself thriving into your elderhood.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement