Why Do We Grow Old? This question often comes in mind, but no one has right answer. When Friends meet after the passage of some years they probably remark, inwardly or outspokenly. How time has altered the appearance if each. In the ordinary way, people are not aware of growing older.
It is that sort of meeting that makes them conscious of it. In each human body, physical and psychological changes occur with increasing years. And a combination of a number of these changes indicates the approach or presence of old age. From about the age of 21 we begin to grow old. What causes; the gradual changes, both external and inside the body. Which eventually lead to old age?
Can Anything be Done to Delay this Process of Why Do We Grow Old?
The most familiar changes relate to the external appearance of the body. The skin loses its elasticity and bloom, becoming folded and wrinkled and flabby. The hair loses its original color, becoming grey. Actual hair loss, producing baldness, occurs more especially in men but also in women.
The muscles of the limbs and trunk become weaker and thinner. It is causing a general appearance of weight loss, while the bony parts of the skeleton become less dense with a greater tendency to fracture. Wear and tear thins the discs between the vertebrae of the spine, producing some shortening of stature.
The difference between three generations of women is expressed not only in physical appearance but in posture and style of dress.
- A stooping posture, dim, sunken eyes, a wrinkled skin, grizzled hair and beard such signs of age imprinted by a lifetime’s experience nevertheless impart character to this head.
- An elderly German obviously has no intention of resigning himself yet to becoming a mere spectator at the sports festival.
- An old French woman concentrates on her knitting. Though the joints may become stiff with age, long experience can make old people very quick and deft at performing manual tasks. Poor muscle tone also make an old person appeal shorter. A protruding abdomen or paunch may result both from lack of tone in the voluntary muscles and excess fat in the abdominal wall.
- Facial appearance may be altered both by changes in the sheen of the skin and by wrinkles but also by the presence of dentures replacing decayed teeth. The individual’s own teeth may have been affected by dietary habits and dental attention, but age does thicken the teeth, producing a yellow appearance.
Glasses and Hearing Aids
Hearing aids and glasses are clues to the fact that the senses are also affected by ageing. Changes in the inner ear lead to a gradual loss of high tone hearing, making group conversation difficult to follow. Whether a person is long sighted, short sighted or normal sighted in younger years, advancing age alters the eye lens and lens muscles.
This causes increasing difficulty in reading small print, calling for correction by suitable glasses. Sharpness of vision and night vision may also decrease because of age changes in the light-sensitive cells in the retina at the back of the eye.
The other senses of taste, smell, touch and vibration become less efficient over the years but are never completely lost unless disease of the nervous system supervenes. The sense of pain is usually retained in old age, though its messages may not be interpreted so efficiently by the brain.
Professional singers and political orators become aware sooner than most that age affects the strength and range and timbre of the voice. Thinning or the muscles of the voice box and loss of tissue in its cartilages helps produce the change in voice.
Which may the universally felt dread of old age finds harsh expression in a typically brutal caricature. Two old people drinking soup become hoarse or high and piping. Dentures or lack of teeth may also result in slurred speech. While brain changes can affect what is said and slow the delivery.
Changes inside the body may be less obvious but continue apace with advancing years. The linings of the joints, particularly the weight-bearing joints like knees and hips, are subject to wear and tear. This reduces the mobility of the joints, which become stiffer, affecting walking and other movements.
In the digestive system there is thinning of the stomach lining. But this has little influence on actual digestion unless disease is present as well. Sometimes there is reduced secretion of enzymes from the salivary glands and the pancreas, which does interfere with digestion.
The kidneys produce urine normally in old age, excreting the body’s waste products satisfactorily. There is some gradual decline in the kidneys’ reserve function though, and the old are vulnerable to any sharp decline in water intake. Such as may occur in a debilitated old person living alone and neglecting diet and fluid for some time.
With age, breathing becomes less efficient, partly due to changes in lung capacity through loss of elasticity. There may be thinning of the heart muscle with advancing years and an associated reduction in working capacity. The actual heart rate may be the same as in younger people or it may slow up, and there is a greater tendency to irregular beats.
The shuffling or unsteady gait noted when old people move about is one result of impaired co-ordination due to changes in the 130 nervous system. This may he made worse by muscle weakness and lack of tone and further exaggerated by disease.
In the female human body, the ovaries cease to function at the menopause around the end of the fourth decade of life. In the male human body, however, the testicles can continue to function well into the seventh and even eighth decade.
This means that women cease to be able to reproduce in middle age while men can continue to father children into old age. In both sexes there is a gradual but steady decline in sexual activity but the sexual urge can be well maintained into old age.
Living in the past
The overall physical picture of ageing in the human body is therefore one of a general decline in vigor, in activity and in organ function. Moreover, old people respond badly to extremes of external temperature in particular, thin skin, poor muscle-shivering reflex and slower blood-vessel contraction in the skin make them less able to tolerate cold.
Contrary to popular notions, there is no thinning of the actual blood with age. Where there is lack of blood it is caused by dietary deficiency or disease. Changes in mental powers have recently been studied more fully. Mental alertness and fitness may be well preserved into later years.
There is a gradual and cumulative deterioration in intellectual function as age advances. However particularly with respect to new situations new ideas and new techniques involving co-ordination and the power to adapt. The decline in memory affects learned facts and recently occurring events especially, while past incidents are well recalled. Artistic creativity is also likely to fall off.
An important change in the blood-vessels, known as arteriosclerosis (popularly called ‘hardening of the arteries.), affects everyone as he grows older. The normally elastic and supple arteries become narrowed rigid and twisted. As a result the oxygen supply to the tissues through the blood is reduced and degeneration and ultimate decay of cells. Tissues and organs ensues.
The actual age of onset of arteriosclerosis is variable, some people may be affected in early middle age. The severity of the condition also varies some people may be affected more than others. Such factors as the presence of high blood-pressure, or sugar diabetes are known to encourage the earlier development of arteriosclerosis. When arteriosclerosis is associated with etheroma degeneration of the inner lining of the arteries – it is called atherosclerosis.
Doctors and scientists alike have argued whether arteriosclerosis is a normal biological ageing process or whether it is due to ill-understood disease factors. General opinion favors the latter concept. And so further research may enlighten us on its cause and treatment. What is certain, however, is that arteriosclerosis speeds up normal tissue decay by depriving the ageing tissues of an adequate blood and oxygen supply. This is especially true in the case of the brain and heart.
While insurance companies can calculate the expectation of life at birth for men and women, calculation of the rate at which an individual ages overall is very difficult. Different tissues and organs age at different rates in each human body, and the rate of ageing of individual organs or the body as a whole may in addition be altered by stress, disease, arteriosclerosis or uncertain factors like radiation.
Looked at in biological terms, the human body has several growth periods up to puberty. Followed by further development in adolescence until the full peak is reached at the age of 21. At that age, for example, long-bone growth ceases and many consider that true ageing begins shortly after this time. Since the expectation of life at birth is around 68 years for men and 72 years for women. It follows that men and women have a very long ageing period.
The social, cultural and evolutionary value of this long-ageing period is immense. It allows individuals to organize their lives in terms of studying and training for different occupations. Then developing the knowledge and expertise thus gained in their employment over many years. It allows the growth of cultural group patterns – secular, ethnic and religious and long periods of individual cultural attainment.
Moreover, it gives adequate time for the development of social and sexual relationships, and consequently of family units as the essence of stable societies. In an evolutionary sense, wisents and grandparents are themselves it means that the children born to parents potentially long-living. The maximum at different periods in their lives will vary, human life wins, and we have seen is about producing genetic mutation and adaptation.
Very few animals apart from turtles which regulates length of life, however the bio tortoises, have a life span greater than the logical time clock’. It appears to be built in 110 years which is the usually accepted genetically. When the individual contribution are upper limit for a human being and many Man’s evolutionary plan of pro-familiar animals, like dogs and horses, grass is over, ageing and death arrive.
Have a life expectancy of less than a third the improvement in the average expected the three score years and ten which is the portion of life from 60 years in 1930 to over. There appears to be no single main genes but to an environmental change the cause of human ageing. What seems to better medical and surgical treatment of happen is that a number of factors – disease and better social and economic inherited physical, chemical, psycho conditions?
Logical and environmental varying with there are several cellular theories of each individual – cumulate to damage and ageing to explain some of the tissue and ultimately destroy the cells and tissues. Organ changes already described. The end result of ageing is therefore cells are capable of dividing indefinitely inevitably death of the individual as a throughout life, the old cells being shed as whole.
The nature of these ageing factors scales while the new one, replace them it is understood in some instances and still is known by analogy with what happen to the subject of research in others. In cancer, that this capacity for dividing Heredity appears to influence the in and renewing can be altered both by dividable life span.
1 At nearly 90 years of age the many people retained his extraordinary vitality, creativity and influence in their profession.
2 In the stress-free atmosphere of a rural immunity people may live to great ages. Accepted as a member of society with an active part to play, this old Turkish farmer still finds life good.
3 In old age there is some stiffening of the limbs, allied with an insecurity in balance and greater tendency to fall, which makes getting downstairs a hazardous business needing help.
1 and 2 A full, strenuous and momentous life has been responsible for the difference taken at the beginning and end of any career.
3 Men can continue to father children until late in life, and they are more like than women to marry partners much younger than themselves. The ever-youthful film actor Care Grant became a father for the first time at the age of 62.X-rays in the case of the skin and by chance mutations.
As a result the new cells produced by the ageing human during the division process are progressively inexact copies of their predecessors, and their function is progressively less satisfactory. Cells of the central nervous system are unable to regenerate at all, and once lost at any time throughout life are irreplaceable. Ageing of the brain and spinal cord can be thought of as progressive loss of cells through ill health, infection or changes in the blood supply.
A current theory of ageing is derived from speculation about certain types of illness such as thyroids and acquired hemolytic anemia. In these illnesses it is believed that the body’s ability to distinguish its own tissues from foreign invaders of the body, zilch as micro- organisms, is disturbed.
The breakdown in the self-recognition mechanism results the production of antibodies rich at ac the body’s own proteins. In tie diseases mentioned, is responsible for the destruction of thyroid-gland tissue and blood-cell tissue. It is thought that this auto-immune process could operate in ageing as well as in cases of specific disease, gradual degeneration steadily extending throughout the body.
The fact that a woman’s expectation of life is greater by at least four years than a man’s has led to a suggestion that sex hormones have an effect on ageing. While there is some evidence that giving sex one to patients with chemical measurable sex-hormone deficiency, makes them look younger.
It does not altogether fundamental ageing process. Similarly, illnesses caused by hormone deficiency, like hypothyroidism. Which produce illness with the features of old age, are corrected by giving in this case thyroxin hormone, but do not alter the basic ageing tendency.
An older idea, based on animal experiments, relates the body’s metabolic act it sits or rate of living, to the speed of the ageing process. Metabolism is related to hormone function and also to temperature levels and diet. A famous experiment with rat-showed that these creatures could be retarded in their growth and development by persistent low-calorie feeding, and that they lives could be abnormally prolonged in this way. This does not mean.
However, that human ageing can be retarded in the same way; although the converse is true overeating leading to obesity shortens life. There is no clear evidence that human ageing is affected by temperature. Extremes of temperature however, act as a stress factor adapted to them and stress is thought it to influence ageing. Stress, pain, privation, and neglect may because of premature ageing. Which is promoted by arteriosclerosis has noted earlier.
As young as you feel the influence of the mind on ageing is now being increasingly recognized. Apart from the problems of adapting to the physical changes brought by age, such causes of emotional disturbance as compulsory retirement from work, bereavement, altered social role and economic anxiety may all contribute to ageing. The absence of a positive function in old age can affect the will to live and may accelerate the ageing process towards death.
From earliest times, Man has dreamed of reversing the ageing process. Particularly with a view to sexual rejuvenation, and of prolonging life indefinitely. The search for an elixir of life by the medieval alchemists is one example of this preoccupation.
The modern science of gerontology studies the processes of ageing in animals and humans in order to understand the difference between normal and disease-induced ageing. The purpose is to determine the causes of normal ageing, and to see whether the ageing processes can be retarded.
There has been no real progress in the last-mentioned aim. Despite the widespread and uncritical use of so called ‘anti-ageing’ drugs usually sex hormones, vitamins or procaine derivatives no evidence of prolongation of the natural life span is forthcoming.
The only real improvement has been in the care and rehabilitation of the sick or disabled old person. Nevertheless, some American enthusiasts are so sure of the success of gerontology that they are considering suspended and by a ‘deep freeze process called.
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