The subtle, not so, joyful changes I notice as I age

Jun 08, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

Oh my, it’s all happening I thought to myself! From the moment I reached out for the face washer hanging inside the glass shower wall and placed it around the hot water tap to turn it on, it dawned on me how my habits and routines were changing. I needed to use something thicker to grasp and turn the taps firmly to avoid the shooting pain in my wrist.

While the warm water was soothing, my mind wandered. I began to think about how already I have unconsciously begun to adjust to make things easier and to avoid pain.

Turning taps on and off is just one of them. It all seems to have begun in my seventies. I didn’t have this issue in my sixties.

In hindsight when my parents hit their seventies, I noticed changes in them too.

Things on the decline in my seventies:

Taps seem tighter than once before.

  • Jar tops are harder to unscrew.
  • For manual can openers, use one with a thicker rubberised handle. I am considering an electric can opener.
  • Consciously bend/squat to avoid straining my back.
  • Standing up from a kneeling position I’m slower and sometimes hurts.
  • Avoid rushing around, it is more stressful as I age.
  • Going out regularly. If feeling weary I find it takes days to recover or I get sick so I try to avoid overbooking myself. Then I have to deal with the guilt of letting people down.
  • Driving, once I would be a bit of a lead foot (not anymore) and I do not like driving in torrential rain. I visualise too many potential hazards plus it is harder to see.
  • Shoe heel height. Apart from hurting my feet, the safety factor of falling over has caused me to choose safer lower heels.
  • Walking the stairs. I focus on each step and don’t rush. I always keep next to the handrail even if I only use my elbow as a guide. I fell downstairs and not a pleasant experience.

So there are good reasons why I have chosen to modify my habits related to ageing:

What to expect & do

According to the Mayo Clinic, many of our issues are considered a normal part of the ageing process yet there are ways to manage each one. My focus for this article is on two items that have annoyingly started to affect me compared to when I was younger:

1. Cardiovascular; One of the most common changes is in the cardiovascular system. There is a stiffening of the blood vessels and arteries that causes your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. The heart muscles change to adjust to the increased workload.

Even though our heart rate at rest will stay about the same, it won’t increase during activities as much as it used to. These changes increase the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and other cardiovascular problems.

But there are things we can do about it to promote good health at any age such as including physical activity in your daily routine (I have needed to modify my exercise and not push so hard). Eating a healthy diet, not smoking (I have never smoked), managing stress and our old favourite getting enough sleep, which I find as I get older to be quite a challenge.

2. Bones, joints and muscles; are the areas that have begun to let me down. With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density which makes them weaker and more prone to fracture. Some may even become shorter. Our muscles lose strength, which is what I am finding and my gym weights have gone down a size.

What we can do to promote bone, joint and muscle health is ensure we get adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D, and include daily physical activity into your routine. Weight-bearing exercises, walking, jogging climbing stairs and tennis are all beneficial. Weight training can help slow bone loss and build stronger bones. Substance abuse such as smoking and excess alcoholic drinks to be avoided.

Other age-related structural changes in our bodies: our digestive system (particularly in the large intestine), an increase in bladder and urinary issues (the bladder becomes less elastic), our memory and thinking skills as the brain changes, our eyes more sensitive to glare, difficulty hearing high frequencies or following conversations, teeth where our gums might pull back from our teeth, our skin becomes less elastic and more fragile, weight changes, changes in sexuality needs and performance.

Having said all this the positive side is, although we cannot stop the ageing process we do have the option of making better choices to maintain an active life and manage the issues presented to us in the best possible way.


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