Whilst some age-related changes can cause a drastic deterioration in our health, many lesser changes are important to our self-image and quality of life. Wrinkling skin and greying hair are two of the most obvious external signs of ageing.
One of the most common complaints is that we cannot recall things as well as we could: those ‘senior moments’. Memory does start to decline in later life, as our brains process information more slowly due to a build-up of waste products from brain cells.
As we age our bones tend to become thinner and to lose their strength. Together these factors can limit mobility for older people and increase the risk of fractures.
However, our bodies have a remarkable ability to adjust to the effects of ageing. Whilst the capacity of our organs to cope with any extra demand reduces as we age, they develop forms of compensatory changes to help us manage this loss. As our arteries stiffen, the ventricles of the heart (the pumping chambers) enlarge to help keep the blood flowing.
The processes that cause these normal effects of ageing begin in the womb, so ageing is a lifelong path. We are all ageing, throughout our lives.