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Quiz: Our Bodies as We Age

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You need to eat less as you get older.

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You need to eat less as you get older.

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  • Correct Answer:

You need about 20% fewer calories at age 80 than at age 30. Most of this is due to less activity, but your body also burns calories more slowly. If you eat less, be careful to get enough vitamins and calcium. Your body might not absorb certain nutrients as well as it used to, and medicines -- even antacids -- can interfere. A healthy diet helps protect your heart, memory, and bones.

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After age 40, almost everyone has a harder time seeing things that are closer than 2 feet.

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After age 40, almost everyone has a harder time seeing things that are closer than 2 feet.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

You may first notice it while trying to read a menu. Almost all adults get a vision problem called presbyopia, which means you have trouble seeing close up. It often starts in your early 40s.

 

Fortunately, inexpensive, nonprescription reading glasses, which have magnifying lenses, can help. You can find a pair at your local drugstore.  If you already wear glasses or contacts for distance, consider bifocals or no-line progressive lenses.

Your thinking abilities always begin to decline after your early 20s.

Your thinking abilities always begin to decline after your early 20s.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Your brain reaches its maximum size in your early 20s, and then it starts to shrink slowly. Blood flow also decreases over time. But some types of memory can improve throughout life, like your ability to recall concepts and facts. It’s just that “why” and “how” may be easier to recall than “what,” “when,” and “where.” Do your memory lapses interfere with daily living? Losing your keys is normal. Forgetting what they’re for is not.

You may have a harder time hearing, especially women’s and kids’ voices, as you age.

You may have a harder time hearing, especially women’s and kids’ voices, as you age.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Women and children naturally have higher-pitched voices, and these types of sounds are often the first to go from our hearing. Over time, the hair cells inside your ear that send sound waves to the brain become less sensitive. That makes it hard, for example, to distinguish “P” from “T.” The condition, called presbycusis, can be caused by heredity, loud noise, illness, or even ear wax.

Aging means less sex. 

Aging means less sex. 

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Though half of sexually active 75- to 85-year-olds say they have sexual problems, more than half have sex at least two to three times a month. That’s about as often as 18- to 59-year-olds.

 

Getting older doesn’t have to mean no sex. Erectile dysfunction is treatable. And the clitoris stays vital with age -- women may just need lubrication and extra foreplay to get the blood moving.

You get shorter as you get older.

You get shorter as you get older.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Between ages 30 and 70, men can lose an inch and women can lose about 2 inches of height. After age 80, both can lose even more. The cartilage between your joints can wear out and compress your spine, and muscles may get weaker and not hold you up as well. Thinning bones play a role, too.

 

Getting shorter too quickly can be a warning sign that you're at a greater risk for hip and spine fractures, so talk to your doctor if you notice a big change.

As you get older, what features may get bigger?

As you get older, what features may get bigger?

  • Your Answer:
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The cartilage in your ears keeps growing, and that may make your ears get a little longer. Your nose may seem larger because the connective tissue weakens, allowing it to droop.

Losing control of your bladder is an unavoidable part of aging.

Losing control of your bladder is an unavoidable part of aging.

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  • Correct Answer:

Bladder problems often increase with age. But they don’t happen to everyone. And don’t think you have to live with them. There are many ways to treat bladder problems, from changing what you eat or drink (less caffeine!) to medicine or surgery.

What causes wrinkles as you age?

What causes wrinkles as you age?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Skin begins to age when you hit your 20s. Your body doesn’t make as much collagen and elastin, proteins that help your skin stay plump and firm. Your skin becomes thinner and doesn’t spring back into place as well after you smile, frown, or squint.

 

Doing exercises to “strengthen” facial muscles will make things worse. Instead, reach for the sunscreen before you go outside, and if you smoke, make an effort to quit.

As they get older, both men and women may grow unwanted hair.

As they get older, both men and women may grow unwanted hair.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Women: After menopause, you may lose some hair on your head and grow it on your chin or upper lip. This happens in part because you have less estrogen to counter the effects of testosterone. It’s just part of the aging process.

 

Men: Aging may change your hair situation, too. You may lose the hair on your head and gain some in your ears and nose.

As you get older, you don’t need as much sleep.

As you get older, you don’t need as much sleep.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Your sleep needs stay the same throughout adulthood. Even so, older folks take longer to fall asleep, spend more time in lighter stages of sleep, and wake up more often in the night. Some of these issues relate to other health problems or medications. The body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm), which controls timing of bodily functions, seems to have seniors going to bed and getting up much earlier, too.

Older people are more optimistic than younger ones.

Older people are more optimistic than younger ones.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

The elderly are more likely to look on the sunny side of life, studies show. They generally think happy thoughts and remember events more positively than younger people do. Thinking about the past puts them in a good mood.

Your Score:     You correctly answered   out of   questions.
Your Score:     You correctly answered   out of   questions.

Great job! Prepare to age gracefully!

Well done! You’re ready for the years ahead!

Reality check. Aging well is all about experience. Try again!

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