Old age is an existential theme of humanity . Even the ancient papyri (2000 BC) already spoke of the issue of old age. But we cannot understand old age without thinking about aging.
From the positivist paradigm we can think that the destiny of old age is dementia due to neuronal deterioration. From another perspective, old age is a normal evolutionary stage , where some pathologies are more frequent.
The prejudice towards old age
Fifty years ago, after the Second World War, old age began to be considered a collective phenomenon, with the lengthening of life expectancy, due in large part to the contraceptive pill, antibiotics and the decrease in mass wars.
It should be noted that, as stated by Lic. Robert Pérez, the UN has investigated old age in a generalized way, for a fundamentally economic issue, which, although it allows generating policies, does not affect the individuality of each elderly person in particular.
The elderly population is very heterogeneous, but its homogenization is sustained by social prejudices that unfortunately many times are installed in the scientific and academic field.
Very united with the above, I think it is pertinent to bring the term «oldism», which comes from the English term «ageim», introduced in 1973 by Robert Barther, who dedicated himself to the study of prejudicial and discriminatory behaviors that exist towards the elderly in society .
Difference between old age and aging
Old age is a stage marked by gains and losses . From a neuropsychological and cognitive point of view, things are being lost such as: working memory – memory of work-, episodic memory and attention. However, if the elderly are met with basic needs and emotionally well, semantic memory is increased. As in any evolutionary stage, personality traits count, and it is especially in old age that these traits and pathologies become rigid, that is, a hysterical adult will be a hysterical old man.
In aging, the biological and the social clearly mark the passage of time , but in the psychological, the passage of time is more complex, it is not so linear. Human beings are defined by time and by the meaning we give it , meaning that is both individual and collective. There is an identity time that has to do with natural processes and an imaginary time that makes subjective and unconscious processes.
To which I wonder, when do we realize that time has passed? A new way of naming appears, there is a gap between the body scheme and the body itself and we begin to see more how much time remains for death and not from birth, among other changes. Old age is a privileged time to find ourselves. You have to symbolize the imaginary in order to reverse things.
Old age from a health perspective would have to do with accepting the passage of time, that life entails losses and gains, it would imply rebuilding self-esteem in daily projects , in building an autonomous project.
Physiological changes in old age
Most age-related biological functions begin to decline gradually after the age of 30.
In many cases, the decrease in biological functions that occur with aging may be due, in part, to lifestyle, individual behavior, diet and its relationship with the environment, therefore, it is something that can be modify to improve quality of life.
As you age, your blood vessels and arteries become stiffer. The heart has to work harder to pump blood, so it is necessary to stimulate it so that this work is not so arduous. If the heart is overstretched and works harder to pump blood, it can lead to high blood pressure and other heart problems.
The skin becomes drier and less flexible. That is why it is necessary to hydrate more and take care of sun exposure.
Exercise has been shown to be one of the contributing factors in longevity, with only about 10% of those in old age participating in regular physical activity. Physical activity is always necessary to maintain a good quality of life and avoid cardiovascular problems, a common cause of death in old age.
Older people tend to be less active than other groups for many reasons, not least because the physical or mental disorders they experience as they reach old age limit their physical activity.
Benefits of exercise in old age
It is normal that when people reach the stage of old age they feel discouraged by the health problems, aches and pains of age. They may find themselves fearful to begin exercising, for fear of injury, or for fear of falling. But that should not be taken as an excuse.
The benefits of physical activity in old age far outweigh its risks. Among these benefits we can highlight:
- Reduces cardiovascular problems
- Helps maintain or reduce weight and reduce health problems such as obesity
- Improves the capacity of biological functions
- Preserves bone density and skeletal muscle strength (prevents diseases such as osteoporosis )
- Improves mobility, flexibility and balance (helps balance, coordinate and reduce the risk of falls)
- Improved feeling of well-being
- Prevents stressful situations
- Helps maintain greater control over breathing
- Prevents diseases such as diabetes , cholesterol and colon cancer
- Improves mood and capacity for self – confidence
- It can help prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and diseases like Alzheimer’s .
- Prevents mental disorders, such as: depression , anxiety disorders or panic attacks
- Avoid sleep disorders and improve sleep quality
There is no age limit that prevents physical activity, in fact, this should be included in the daily routine of all people. It’s about adding a little more movement to life, even in subtle ways. It is never too late to improve the quality of life and incorporating exercise is one of the key factors for that – as long as it is not contraindicated.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.