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complications of aging (9)
Terms in this set (24)
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:
Theories of Aging
-Apoptosis—programmed cell death —
-Degenerative changes in collagen
Random errors during cell mitosis
With the exception of estrogen and testosterone, the level of hormone secretion remains relatively constant.
Number of tissue receptors decreases
Speed of hormonal response may diminish
Reproductive System Changes: Females
(average age, 51 years)
-Ovaries do not respond to FSH and LH
-Lack of ovulation
-Declining estrogen and progesterone levels
-Cessation of menstrual cycle
Dyspareunia—painful sexual intercourse
-Thinning of vaginal mucosa, loss of elasticity
-Decreased glandular secretions
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
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
-Elastic fibers reduced
-Collagen fibers less flexible
Lesions include skin tags, keratoses, lentigenes
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
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
Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake
Bone density testing for women at age 50 years or earlier
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 treatment for all interacting problems is necessary
Changes in one system often cause cascade of other problems.
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
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