For those of you that have yet to reach your mid-life point, here are a few things you have to look forward to.
Skin becomes less elastic, wrinkled and drier. The best way to lessen that effect is to stay out of the sun and routinely apply moisturizers to your skin. Dermatologists and aestheticians can help greatly with keeping your skin healthy.
Hair usually begins to turn gray and becomes thinner. The texture changes and it is often more brittle. Some hair care products offset the physiological effects to a degree and some people choose to continually color their hair. Others, including me, wear their gray as a matter of pride. I’ve earned those silver highlights!
Height is often reduced as part of the aging process. It is not unusual for 80-year-olds to be 2 inches shorter than they were in high school. This shortening is the result of degenerative changes in your spine, primarily in the discs. New innovations such as the spinal disc decompression device we use in our clinic may reduce or possibly reverse this change to some degree. Regular chiropractic care and postural exercises can help too.
Hearing is often reduced past the age of 40. High frequency sounds are more difficult to hear and voices may be less clear. This can often be prevented to a large degree by limiting the exposure to loud noises in your youth and using hearing protectors in situations where loud or explosive noises may be present. Hearing changes may be linked to other things such as dietary habits as well. After the age of 50 these changes become more pronounced. There is a wide variety of hearing aid devices now available on the market, although these can be expensive.
Tinnitus or ringing in the ear becomes more common as aging occurs as well. This can be caused by a number of problems. Hearing loss should be evaluated by an ear, nose and throat specialist and an audiologist. Hearing aids can sometimes be used to reduce the aggravation that comes with tinnitus.
Vision usually declines past the age of 30. It is often not noticeable until after 40. For many people the first sign of aging in their vision is when they notice they cannot read fine print without the aid of some kind of magnifier. This is the result of the natural lenses in the eye becoming less pliable and less reactive to pressure from the eye muscles when focusing. For most people an inexpensive pair of reading glasses will resolve the problem. However, any change in vision really should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.
For many people the lenses will continue to degenerate until they become less clear and eventually develop cloudy areas called opacities or cataracts. Thankfully for our generation, eye surgeons have become amazingly adept at replacing the original natural lens in the eye with a synthetic one that is as clear as glass and will never cloud. Cataract surgery is a remarkable modern-day sight saver.
Sleep changes for most people past the age of 40. It is not uncommon for people to wake up more at night and end up sleeping less than when they were younger. Since aging also brings about some urinary issues and joint pain that cause us to wake easily during sleep, sleep impairment is common. Add issues such as sleep apnea and it is easy to see that sleep problems can be a significant problem for those over 50. Sleep medicine specialists can diagnose sleep problems and offer solutions.
Spine and joint pain is very common in people over 40. I find that many patients report taking pain relievers routinely for daily spine, joint and muscle pain. Chiropractic care and acupuncture work surprisingly well for most patients with chronic spine and joint problems. Physical therapy, massage and regular exercise can be very helpful as well. Other factors such as nutrition can play a very important role in improving mobility and reducing pain.
Feeling the effects of aging is not the most pleasant part of life, but for most people the effects can be lessened significantly by working harder to take care of themselves and seeking professional help when needed.