It’s inevitable: Your body breaks down slowly as aging process takes place
By Barbara Pierce
There are some things you should know:
The eyesight fades, the hearing fails,
And when you sneeze, the bladder goes.
The bathroom’s now your friend, ‘cause without a single warning,
You’ve got to go again.
You can’t be in a hurry; your pace is like a snail.
The list of meds is getting longer
Just part of getting old.”
The above song, source unknown, is making the rounds on social media.
And it’s right on. Swollen feet and leaky pipes, sudden shivers and sleepless nights are some of the things that stalk us if we’re lucky enough to make it to the other side of 50.
There are a number of things that just aren’t what they used to be.
Here are some of the common things that might slap us in the face as we age:
• Hearing loss: “The longer we live, the more likely we are to experience age-related hearing loss,” said Robert Bishton, hearing specialist at Action Ear Hearing in New Hartford.
“Life is like a deck of cards — we’re all dealt a different hand. Don’t ignore diminished hearing or dismiss it as a normal part of aging. Get treated and live life to the fullest,” Bishton said.
• Frequent urination: “As we age, we have more problems urinating,” said Naeem Samad, a urologist with Slocum-Dickson Medical Group in New Hartford. “If you’re over 50 and getting up more than once during the night to urinate, have it evaluated. It could be something that can be treated.”
An enlarged prostate is an age-related issue that many men over 50 have, usually without problems. For some, it can cause bladder problems.
The enlarged prostate compresses the urethra, making urination difficult. Urinating frequently, especially at night, difficulty getting a urine stream going, or feeling as if you are unable to get all the urine out can be the result. These symptoms respond well to treatment.
For women, a prolapsed uterus is common, when the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments become weak and are no longer able to support the uterus. This may cause leaking and the need to urinate frequently. Treatment options include Kegel exercises, use of a pessary, medication, or surgery if it is severe.
A pessary is a prosthetic device inserted into the vagina to reduce the protrusion of pelvic structures into the vagina.
• Constipation-diarrhea: As we age, we tend to be more susceptible to constipation and diarrhea, in part because we may be exercising less, eating a diet with less fiber, or taking medications that could clog us up or speed things along too quickly.
It is normal to have highly variable habits, but each of us tend to have a regular habit of bowel evacuation. If yours changes, first look to your medications, as this is a common side effect.
To decrease constipation, stay hydrated, eat fiber-rich foods, whole grains and cereals, eat dairy products in moderation, avoid fried fast foods, and exercise more than usual. Only your physician should recommend a laxative.
It is also normal as we age to have diarrhea from time to time because we can eat foods that disagree with us. Notice what your trigger foods could be. Over-the-counter medications may be helpful.
• Medication side effects: The older we get, the more likely we are to have side effects from medications. And the list of medications is ever lengthening. Taking any new medication is a minefield, even over-the-counter meds.
There is no easy solution, according to pharmacist Gary Actna of Garro Drugs in Utica.
“The way medications interact with us is a very individual thing. What side effects one person has doesn’t mean the next person will have them. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns,” Actna said.
• Foot-related problems: “Our feet are the most important part of our body,” said Kevin Crable, a podiatrist at Oneida Health Podiatry Care.
If we have a problem, it can change our life, as foot pain impacts our ability to walk and our life becomes more limited.
One thing that happens as we age is the blood flow to our feet slows, causing diseases that cause foot pain, and small problems develop into larger ones.
Another common thing is we lose the fat on the bottoms of our feet. By the end of the day, we can have pain because we’re walking on bones. The solution is to wear cushioned, comfortable shoes.
Most of us will get arthritis in our feet. Shoe inserts, exercises to increase range of motion, and losing weight if you’re heavy may help.
Hammertoes are common. Cover corns and calluses with padding and trade in your pointy-toed heels for wider toes.
“As soon as you have a concern about your feet, seek help,” urged Crable.
Yes, the consequences of aging are not pretty. But, as the ditty ends:
“Look on the bright side, this day is not your last. At least you’re on the green side of the grass.”