You’re not “just getting old” – 6 symptoms of ageing you can avoid

It’s one of the most confusing and distressing parts of getting older: not knowing for sure whether a health concern

It’s one of the most confusing and distressing parts of getting older: not knowing for sure whether a health concern is a “real” problem, or simply a normal part of ageing.

In many cases, both answers are true. Yes, certain health problems can naturally become bigger concerns with age – but by accepting this as “normal”, many people will hold back from the activities that can ease them; even prevent them outright.

None of these solutions are entirely simple and straightforward, but nor should they be taken for granted. Which of these issues is your biggest concern? Are you doing enough now to prevent it?

1. Balance problems

The sense of balance will naturally fade a little with age. This doesn’t mean it’s going for good – just that it will take some active work to maintain the same level of balance you had while younger.

Doing this could require some specific balance-based exercises (many of which can thankfully doable quickly at home), or modifying your existing activities to challenge your sense of balance that little bit more, thus making it stronger.

This (combined with poor bone health – see below) is the main reason falls become a serious problem when we get older, so a few minutes a day here really could save you some serious strife.

For more information, see our guide on how to improve your balance with age.

2. Hearing

There are certain things you can do to prevent hearing loss: avoid cleaning your ears with cotton buds; adjust your diet; avoid everyday noisemakers such as hair dryers.

The unfortunate fact is that for some of us, hearing loss is normal and inevitable. But the worst of the actual consequences can largely be avoided – if you recognise a problem and see help early.

Studies show the use of a hearing device can help you avoid some pretty catastrophic long-term issues – not just social frustration and alienation, but even physical brain deterioration and dementia. The right technology could be enough to completely sidestep these risks.

For more information, see our guide on how hearing aids can prevent mental decline.

3. Arthritis

This is a tricky one. Many of us will suffer from arthritis at one point or another, and there currently isn’t much we can do to prevent it – besides looking after our basic bone health (see below).

Once again, the key is to not take it for granted if it happens. It can be eased. It can be fought. You’ll need to keep your body active and your joints well-exercised during this time, or else you may find yourself physically weaker and more vulnerable by the time it passes.

The instant sore joints become a concern, see your doctor or physiotherapist to arrange regular sessions. As the instinct will be to avoid physical activity, a basic “forced” routine is a must.

Regular trips to the pool are another great option, as they allow a wide range of exercises without the pressure and pain you would usually feel. For more information, see our short, helpful introduction on how to exercise with arthritis.

4. Weak bones

Two in three Australians over 50 currently have either osteoporosis or osteopenia – and the majority of us have never had this diagnosed. This means you may be far more vulnerable to injury and joint pain than you “need” to be. Osteoporosis is not a natural part of ageing, but a preventable illness.

Thankfully, compared to many other health concerns, keeping your bones strong is a surprisingly straightforward process that boils down to four steps: 1. eat more dairy; 2. do more walks and weight-bearing exercises; 3. get more vitamin d through sun exposure; 4. ask your doctor if you’re at risk.

For more information, see our guide on how to keep your bones health over 60.

5. Eyesight

While there’s no single, easy way to guarantee good eyesight in the coming decades, a few basic practices will certainly help. Wear sunglasses; avoid strain; give your eyes regular, varied “exercises”.

Beyond this, healthy eyesight can depend on the same things as the rest of your body: regular hydration; no smoking; well-managed blood-sugar levels; regular sleep. For more information, see our guide to the ways you can keep your vision strong.

Regular eye checks are a must. Be sure to ask your specialist about some of the preventative measures you can take – or do a little online research – to see what day-to-day activities can prevent the worst down the track.

6. Oral hygiene

While it becomes harder to maintain oral hygiene with age, it’s not impossible. Thankfully, losing our teeth is no longer a foregone conclusion; we live in privileged age when modern medicine can help us patch up and correct

But of course, this means doing something most of us are extremely reluctant to do: book a dentist appointment at least every six months. It’s as simple (and frustrating, and expensive) as that.

Once you pass that (admittedly tough) hurdle, there are a surprising number of ways to course correct and keep your teeth in the process. Learn more about how you can regain your oral health as you age.

The golden rule

Ultimately, if you’re concerned, do your research or see your doctor. There are very few ailments – physical or mental – that cannot be improved with continued effort and specialist intervention. And while this is certainly easier said than done, your body is worth fighting for.

Which of these issues is your biggest concern? Do you feel you’re doing enough to prevent/improve it? If not: what’s your biggest challenge in taking the right step?

  1. All good so far. I am very lucky I have no major health problems.

  2. As i am 70 in feb 2016 all three come into mind,, i hope it does not happen ,, we will see , excuse the pun,,,

  3. Haha reading glasses,okay,plate in front with 5 teeth a pain it slips haha.cant chew gum now ,first month of new plate got gum stuck on roof of plate, tried taking plate out and gum caused a string effect infront of my friend

  4. You can imagine what my bone structure is like…a dentist took all my top teeth out when I was 14yrs old….would go to jail for it now…

  5. My hands hv lost power due to arthritise. Very painful. Find it hard to use can openers

    • Im 63 years and have Arthritis in my hands , wtist and arms. I do not take Pharma drugs but have consulted a Naturopath and was found to be quite deficient in a number of vitamins and minerals. Hence sorting this out I and feeling so much better and have regained my strength. Pharma drugs are not good as they will cause other health issues due to severe contra indications. Be careful and do things Naturally first…… good luck.

  6. Glasses all my life, all my own teeth, osteopenia (dr says it is genetic rather than lifestyle related), good hearing, minimal aches and pains,so far..not so bad .so here’s hoping

  7. No:3 Arthritis. I have Arthritis and all the Doxtors wanted to do was put me on Pharma drugs! Not me as I much prefer Natural any day. I have always exercised and swimming was also a part of my almost daily routine. I go to a Naturopath and now having my gut sorted out and found I was deficient in a numbr of vital enzymes and minerals plus there was an overload of lead and mercury in my body from when I was young when lead paint was around us all the time and mercury from amalgam from fillings I no longer have. Changing my diet and adding vitamins and minerals to my diet I feel so much better and very little pain. I manager to go paddling in my kayak up to twice a week and this helps extend my elbow, wrist and hands that are most affected. Don’t tell people to go to Doxtors and accept the shit they give out. After all we have an Organic body, not a chemical body!!!!!……

  8. For me I can still do crochet in the night , there’s nothing I can do about my teeth , my mind is still pretty good I can still remember things

  9. Oh I’ve got a bag full, osteoarthritis in most joint, fingers,shoulders,back, spondylitis in the back, ankle fused, 2 knees replaced and deaf in one ear! Lol! Does it stop me from doing anything? I don’t think so…..went to America and Canada last Lear with my daughter and I couldn’t tell you how many miles we walked and how many stairs I climbed….you just got to get on with it….I’m a very positive person and as I tell my girls if there’s the will there’s a way…..all good

    • Joan Lyons I had it done in 2006 but it is a very hard operation with the recovery….I had plaster up to my knee for 8 weeks and then a moon boot for another 6 weeks. It was worth it but it can still ache a little from time to time if I’m on it for hours or doing heaps of walking but I don’t regret having it done….😀

  10. Eyesight good *tick*, hearing fantastic *tick*, memory good *tick*. Arthritis in thumb joints *tick*, spinal problems from an accident *tick* (don’t take anything for the pain though just try and be careful). Can’t get up off the floor without holding on to something *tick*. Teeth – now that is a huge problem and I am absolutely terrified as I have adverse reactions to the injections plus I panic. Need to have 4 fixed and a few removed and a partial top denture. New Year’s resolution to get it done!!! All booked in and panicking even now. Otherwise I’m fantastic for 70 in May 2016 lol.

    • have you looked into hypnosis ,many years ago i had some teeth removed under hypnosis it was the best thing i ever did . no pain calmed my nerves it was brilliant

    • Ask for the gas before the treatment, I have it every time it’s so relaxing I nearly fall asleep in the chair and you don’t feel a thing

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