What to expect as your body ages

The signs of aging aren?t always as obvious as a few more wrinkles and grey hairs. The body naturally changes as you get older, but what exactly can you expect and how do you make sure you?re aging in a healthy way?

The experts at Mayo Clinic offer a list of things to look for as you age, and tips on how you can stay healthy:

n Heart. As you get older, your heart must work harder to pump the same amount of blood through your body. Your blood vessels may narrow if hardened deposits of fat have formed on your arteries. This can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension).

You can help prevent high blood pressure by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and reducing your salt intake.

n MUSCLES, JOINTS, BONES. Your bones shrink in size and density as you age, which makes you susceptible to fracture. Your muscles and joints also lose some flexibility and strength.

To help your body stay flexible and to keep your bones strong, get the recommended daily amount of Vitamin D and calcium and engage in weight-bearing exercises like walking, climbing stairs and light weight training.

n EYES. Experienced eyes have thinner retinas with lenses that are less clear. Focusing on objects close up may become more difficult and you may be sensitive to glaring lights, particularly when driving at night. Common eye conditions include glaucoma and cataracts.

Eat a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and get regular eye exams to help catch any problems early.

n EARS. Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions reported in aging adults. The thickening of eardrums can cause you to have difficulty hearing high frequencies and you may notice an increase in ear wax.

Avoid prolonged exposure to loud noises and wear hearing protection when doing noisy tasks like mowing the lawn. Have your hearing checked regularly.

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If you?ve got health concerns or questions about what you can expect as you get older, a great resource to have on hand is the Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, fourth edition. You?ll have great information at your fingertips including:

n Preventive screening recommendations and tests to consider based on your age.

n Hundreds of pages of fully updated information on diseases and conditions.

n How to protect yourself and prepare for flu pandemics.

n How to make sense of your symptoms.

n A medication guide.

Also included is general information designed to help you navigate the changes and health care decisions that come as we get older.

For more information and healthy aging tips, visit MayoClinic.com.


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