As we age, our bodies undergo a number of changes. While some of these changes may impact our routines and limit our activity, being aware of them can also help us prevent complications and tackle difficulties as they arise, improving our quality of life.
What changes happen in our bones, muscles and joints as we age?
Osteoporosis is a common problem, especially for older women. Bones break more easily. Compression fractures of the vertebrae can cause pain and reduce mobility.
Muscle weakness contributes to fatigue, weakness, and reduced activity tolerance.
Joint problems ranging from mild stiffness to debilitating arthritis (osteoarthritis) are very common.
The risk of injury increases because gait changes, instability, and loss of balance may lead to falls.
Some older people have reduced reflexes. This is most often caused by changes in the muscles and tendons, rather than changes in the nerves. Decreased knee jerk or ankle jerk reflexes can occur.
Involuntary movements are more common in the older people. Older people who are not active may have weakness or abnormal sensations.
People who are unable to move on their own, or who do not stretch their muscles with exercise, may get muscle contractures.
Changes in posture and gait (walking pattern) are common with ageing.
Exercise is one of the best ways to slow or prevent problems with the muscles, joints, and bones.
A moderate exercise program can help you maintain strength, balance, and flexibility. Exercise helps the bones stay strong.
Talk to your health care provider before starting a new exercise program.
It is important to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of calcium.
Stop smoking. Cigarette smoke both accelerates bone loss and blocks treatments from being as affective.
If you've been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend drugs called to prevent further bone damage.
Start strengthening your bones with diet and exercise while you're still young. As you get older, talk to your doctor about bone density scans, and ask whether you need to take medicine if you're at risk for, or are starting to show signs of osteoporosis.
Over-the-counter pain killers may help relieve the pain.
Before your joints get so stiff and painful that they limit your lifestyle, talk to your doctor about treatment and prevention options that can help you maintain a good quality of life.
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