Healthy Aging - Normal Aging
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
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
Sexual function. Men and women produce
lower levels of hormones starting in their 50s. Men produce less sperm, and
their sexual response time slows, though the male sex drive doesn't decrease.
Women stop ovulating and have a number of
menopausal changes linked to lower
estrogen production. For more information, see the
Sexual Vitality section of this topic, and see the topic
Menopause and Perimenopause.