As your body ages, you can expect
gradual changes, at your body's own pace. How your body ages depends in part on
your family (genetic) patterns of aging. But your lifestyle choices have a more
powerful impact on how well your body ages. Fortunately, you can control your
of the following changes may apply to you. Others may not. A healthy lifestyle may slow
many of these normal effects of aging.
age, the skin becomes less elastic and more lined and wrinkled. Fingernail
growth also slows. The oil glands gradually produce less oil, making the skin
drier than before. You can slow skin aging by using moisturizer and protecting
the skin from the sun with sunscreen and sun-protective clothing, such as a hat
Hair. It's normal for hair to
gradually thin on the scalp, pubic area, and armpits. As hair pigment cells
decline in number, gray hair growth increases.
Height. By age 80, it's common to have lost as much as
2 in. (5 cm) in height. This
is often related to normal changes in posture and compression of joints, spinal
bones, and spinal discs.
time, changes in the ear make high-frequency sounds harder to hear and changes
in tone and speech less clear. These changes tend to speed up after age
Vision. Most people in their 40s
develop a need for reading glasses as the lenses in the eyes become less flexible (presbyopia). It's also
normal for night vision and visual sharpness to decline. Also in the later years, glare
increasingly interferes with clear vision. Vision changes can affect your ability to drive safely. For more information, see:
- Healthy Aging: Is It Time to Stop Driving?
Sleep. Changes in sleep and circadian rhythm occur as you age. You will probably sleep less at night, and you may not sleep as deeply as you did when you were younger. And it's more likely that you'll wake up during the night and/or wake up earlier in the morning. For more information, see the topic Coping With Changing Sleep Patterns as You Get Older.
Bones. Throughout adulthood, men and women
gradually lose some of the mineral content in their bones. The bones get less dense and strong.
You can slow natural bone loss and reduce
your risk of
osteoporosis by getting regular, weight-bearing
exercise (such as walking), getting enough calcium and vitamin D, and avoiding
lifestyle choices that weaken bones (such as smoking).
Your doctor may also recommend a bone-protecting medicine. For more
information, see the topic
Metabolism and body composition. Over time, the body typically needs less energy,
and your metabolism slows. Hormone changes in the aging body result in a shift
to more body fat and less muscle mass. The best approach to managing these
changes is to take in fewer calories while keeping up or increasing your
physical activity. Strength training is an especially good way to build or keep
your muscle mass. When your muscle mass is reduced, your metabolism slows down.
Building or keeping your muscle mass allows your metabolism to remain the same