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Terms in this set (26)
Biological processes that lead to aging
Begins prior to birth
Several theories as to cause
Also refers to period from onset of old age to death
The Aging Process
Rate and effects of aging vary among individuals.
May not match chronological age
Rate of changes depend on:
Overall, women live longer than men.
General reduction in function occurs throughout body
Most vulnerable tissues are those that cannot regenerate effectively:
New stats show this difference is disappearing due to increase in cardiovascular disease in women and better health care for men and boys. Obesity and metabolic syndrome may alter these stats significantly in near future. This generation is not expected to outlive its parents if the obesity epidemic in the young is not curtailed.
Programmed cell death
Theories of Aging
Apoptosis—programmed cell death —
Lipofuscin (Brown pigment granules representing lipid-containing residues of lysosomal digestion.)
Degenerative changes in collagen
Random errors during cell mitosis (division)
Increased autoimmune reactions
Free radicals damage nucleic acids, leading to cancer and other diseases.
With the exception of estrogen and testosterone, the level of hormone secretion remains relatively constant.
Number of tissue receptors decreases (thus diminishing the body's response to hormones.)
Speed of hormonal response may diminish
Reproductive System Changes: Females
Menopause (average age, 51 years)
Ovaries do not respond to and LH
Lack of ovulation
Declining estrogen and progesterone levels
Cessation of menstrual cycle
Mood swings (because of)
Dyspareunia—painful sexual intercourse (because of)
Thinning of vaginal mucosa, loss of elasticity
Decreased glandular secretions
sleep disturbance is common with hot flashes and is probably a significant contributor to mood swings.
A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that controls estrogen production by the ovaries.
hormone produced by the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland that stimulates maturation of the ovarian follicle and the formation of the corpus luteum.
Reproductive System Changes: Males
Testosterone levels decline gradually.
Muscle mass decreases.
Testes decrease in size.
Sperm production somewhat reduced
Glandular secretions of prostate decrease
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) common
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
Prostate gets bigger
Changes in Skin and Mucosa
Some related to genetic factors
Many based on exposure to sun and weather
Skin and mucous membranes become thin and more easily damaged.
Dermis thinner—subcutaneous tissue diminished
Number of specialized structures declines:
Skin dry because of reduced sebum (oily secretion of the sebaceous glands)
Elastic fibers reduced
Collagen fibers less flexible
Lesions include skin tags, keratosis (horny growth), lentigenes (small, brown patches)
Hair becomes gray.
Melanocytes are reduced in number.
Thinning of hair
Number of hair follicles decreases
Size and number of cardiac muscle fibers decrease
Fatty tissue and collagen fibers accumulate.
Reduced strength of contraction
Heart valves thicken, become less flexible
Vascular changes may cause a decrease in oxygen supply to heart
Cardiac reserve diminished
Pathologies of the Cardiovascular System
Loss of elasticity, accumulation of collagen
Thickening of arteriolar walls
Increased peripheral resistance
Cause of nonspecific brain changes
Promotes accumulation of cholesterol in walls of large arteries
Increased peripheral resistance
Common cause of angina, myocardial infarction, peripheral vascular disease, strokes
Loss of calcium and bone mass
Higher incidence in postmenopausal women
Fractures of spine, pelvis, and limbs common
Asian or northern European ancestry
Low body mass index
Decreased estrogen levels
Sedentary or inactive lifestyle
Decreased intake of calcium, vitamins C and D
Decreased intestinal calcium absorption
Risk Reduction Osteoporosis
Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake
Bone density testing for women at age 50 years or earlier
Note that loss can be 1-3% per year post menopause and fractures occur at about 25% loss. Most important risk reduction factor is a healthy skeleton in teen and young adult years as osteoblastic activity drops off dramatically after age 40.
Degeneration of cartilage in joints
May be associated with trauma or sports injuries
Articular cartilage thins
Usually in larger weight-bearing joints
Pain and stiffness
Joint replacement may be necessary.
Herniated Intervertebral Disk
Fibrocartilage in intervertebral disk degenerates with age.
Loss of height becomes apparent.
Sudden stress on back may result in herniation.
Causes pressure on spinal nerves
Results in severe back pain
Other Musculoskeletal Changes
Skeletal muscle mass declines with aging.
Dependent on level of fitness
Strength of muscle contractions may decrease.
Flexibility is reduced.
Stiffness becomes evident.
Coordination and balance reduced
Ventilation is limited.
Elasticity in lung tissue is reduced.
Costal cartilage calcifies, reducing rib movement
Skeletal (intercostal) muscles weaken.
Expiration is reduced.
Residual volume increased
Decreased expansion for deep breathing and coughing
Reduced gas exchange in alveoli
Natural reduction in neurons with aging
Lipid accumulations in neurons
Loss of myelin
Decreased response to neurotransmitters
Slower response time
Changes in Vision
Lens becomes less flexible.
Lens tends to become yellow, less transparent
Night vision reduced
Color vision may be reduced.
Vascular degeneration may affect retina
Other Changes in Sensation
Usually caused by degenerative changes in inner ear
Sense of taste may be less
Decreased sense of smell may become safety issue
Ability to discriminate among odors is reduced
Diminished taste and smell sensation may impair appetite and nutrition.
Gastrointestinal Changes and Nutrition
Maintenance of good nutrition may be a problem.
Decreased sense of smell and taste may lead to anorexia
Older individual may lack money for adequate nutrition
Muscle weakness and fatigue
Obesity in older individuals
Increases cardiac workload
Atherosclerosis and hypertension
Type 2 diabetes
Atrophy of mucosa and glands
Reduces digestive secretion
Impaired absorption of vitamin B12, calcium, and iron
Constipation common in older adults
Frequently leads to hemorrhoids
Urinary System Changes
Kidney function reduced
Loss of nephrons
Diminished ability to adapt to changes in electrolyte and acid levels
Reduced capacity to excrete drugs
Weakened urinary sphincter and bladder
Nocturia (frequent urination)
Incontinence (involuntary voiding of urine)
Reduced rate of mitosis
Less rapid immune responses
Higher cumulative exposure to carcinogens
Common in older population
Integrated (coordinated) treatment for all interacting problems is necessary
Changes in one system often cause cascade of other problems.
When synergistic parts work together, they accomplish more than they could alone.
Large number of medications common
Prescription, herbal, and over-the-counter medications
Increased risk of undesirable drug interactions
Compliance may be a problem.
Often necessary to adjust dosage and drug combinations
Unpredictable absorption, distribution, and elimination of drugs