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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Healthy Aging - Normal Aging

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Brain and nervous system. Starting in the third decade of life, the brain's weight, the size of its nerve network, and its blood flow decrease. But the brain adapts to these changes, growing new patterns of nerve endings. Memory changes are a normal part of the aging process—it's common to have less recall of recent memories and to be slower remembering names and details. You can help keep your brain sharp. Engage in regular social activity. Challenge yourself to learn and do new things. And be physically active, to increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain.

Heart and blood circulation. The heart naturally becomes less efficient as it ages, and your heart has to work a little harder during activity than it did in the past. This makes the heart muscle a little larger. You'll notice a gradual decline in your energy or endurance from one decade to the next.

Lungs. In inactive people, the lungs become less efficient over time, supplying the body with less oxygen. Regular physical activity plays a key role in keeping your lungs strong.

Kidneys. With advancing age, the kidneys decline in size and function. They don't clear wastes and some medicines from the blood as quickly and don't help the body handle dehydration as well as in the past. This makes it increasingly important that you minimize the toxins, alcohol, and unnecessary medicine that you take in, and that you drink plenty of water.

Urinary incontinence. Age-related changes in the urinary system, decreased mobility, and some medicine side effects can all lead to urinary incontinence. This does not have to be part of normal aging, so talk to your doctor if urinary incontinence is affecting you.

Sexual function. Men and women produce lower levels of hormones starting in their 50s. Men produce less sperm, and their sexual response time slows. Women stop ovulating and have a number of menopausal changes linked to lower estrogen production. For more information, see the topic Menopause and Perimenopause.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 24, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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