The signs of aging have a negative impact on individuals in all different levels of their lives. This can include psychological and physical affects. While many health products are being designed every year to help reverse the signs of aging, the body eventually wears out and no amount of botox treatments or makeup can cover up the visible appearance of aging amongst the elderly population. With this in mind, there are three most detrimental age-related changes which include visible skin changes, loss of physical motor functions or pain during physical activity, and loss of brain functionality.
One of the most common side effects of aging comes from the visible impact that aging has on the human skin. Several different disorders can develop including loss of color, spots on the skin, wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity (Mayo Clinic, n.d.). There are many reasons that these changes occur during the aging process. For instance, “melanocyte activity declines with age, and in lightskinned individuals, the skin may become very pale” or “clusters of melanocytes can form areas of deepened pigmentation” often referred to as age spots or liver spots (Wold, 2012). This side effect of aging is quite detrimental because it is accompanied by a negative appearance on the skin which cannot be covered up and very little treatments are available to reduce the visibility of this condition. Spots and lesions can develop which can cause skin irritation including itching and inflammation (Mayo Clinic, n.d.). This not only showcases a clear visible impact of the skin but also a physical discomfort which can impact everyday life.
Another key element of the aging process involves a decrease in motor functions and physical movement capability. For example, common diseases such as arthritis and perhaps worse osteoarthritis are often linked as a side effect of aging. Although osteoarthritis is not a direct correlation to aging, it is often found amongst the older population as the pain becomes worsened and can impact simple movements that would otherwise have been easier to accomplish at a younger age. “Osteoarthritis is estimated to affect 43 million adults in the United States and to cost $86 billion annually in treatment costs. By age 70, as many as 70% of adults will experience some degree of disability or discomfort from this disorder” (Wold, 2012). Furthermore, joint diseases and loss of functionality can become more prevalent amongst the elderly as the cartilage begins to deteriorate and the body relies more heavily on muscles and joints to conduct simple motor movements. In the end, physical limitations and pain during bodily movements is a second common side effect of aging.
Finally, the brain’s functionality can often decrease through disease and disorders associated with aging and this can often be the most detrimental age-related change that can occur. Although the person may be able to move correctly, the individual loses the ability over time to recall memories including muscle memory, and Alzheimer’s is also a highly prevalent side effect of aging. Alzheimer’s disease is detrimental to the aging person but also can cause great psychological damage on the descendents and friends of the individual as the person quickly begins to forget who they are – even to the point of being very afraid of loved ones (Alzheimer’s Association, 2011). This is a major age-related change because it impacts more than the individual who is aging and can cause a great lifestyle change for everyone involved. The brain is the most powerful organ in the body and without properly functioning, there is no way for an individual to be able to cope with the effects of aging alone. Therefore, there is often an even greater financial cost associated with loss of brain functionality as caretakers and caregivers are typically required to help provide for the aging individual.
Alzheimer’s Association. (2011, November 7). Alzheimer. Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp
Mayo Clinic (n.d.). Age Spots (liver spots). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/age-spots/DS00912/DSECTION=causes
Wold, G. H. (2012). Basic geriatric nursing. (5th ed.). Mosby.