5/28/2024 | By Terri L. Jones

As kids and teenagers, we know our bodies change dramatically. Getting older isn’t all that different! We experience hormonal changes, sure, and our bodies transform in other ways, too. In fact, your changing aging body can make you feel like you’re trapped in someone else’s skin!

If you’re experiencing some unwanted changes, you may be able to head off, mitigate, or at least manage the often-challenging metamorphoses that are happening to you. Below we delve into five of these changes and what you can do about them.

Five ways to manage a changing aging body

1. Nutrition

As you age, you typically become less active, and your metabolism also slows down. That’s a double whammy! As a result, you may be packing on the pounds. Your body’s ability to absorb nutrients also declines as you get older, while your need for these nutrients ratchets up. For those reasons, the diet you maintained as a younger person simply doesn’t work for you anymore.

It’s important to develop a meal plan with fewer calories but higher nutrient levels. You may also need to augment the food you eat with supplements like B12, calcium, Vitamin D, fish oil, etc.

2. Muscle

Do you feel a little weaker and less toned than in your younger days? In your 30s, you begin losing muscle mass (sarcopenia), and that loss accelerates in your later years. Sarcopenia can impact your day-to-day functions, ultimately including your ability to climb stairs, get out of bed, and even dress yourself. It also increases your risk of falls.

Maintaining a regular exercise regimen, especially weight training, will help offset this muscle loss. You should also include plenty of protein-rich foods in your diet, like meats, eggs, beans, yogurt.

Related: Six strange changes of aging

3. The Brain

seniors dancing at a nightclub. Image by Monkey Business images. Article on the changing aging body

You may walk into a room and forget why you’re there more often than you care to admit or have more difficulty remembering names or certain words. Physical changes to the brain that start as early as your 30s, can begin to impact your brain’s ability to process information as well as to perform its job of remembering, reasoning, and thinking.

Engaging in hobbies, learning new skills, and staying socially connected can keep your mind active. Not only that, seemingly unrelated factors, like eating healthy, exercising and taking care of your physical health, can have a positive impact on your cognitive health.

Related: A review of “Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age” by Sanjay Gupta

4. Hearing

Are you driving your spouse crazy asking them to repeat themself? Do you keep turning the TV up louder and louder? One in three adults over 60 experiences hearing loss, and that number increases to one in two after age 85. Hearing loss related to aging, called presbycusis, is gradual and caused by changes within the inner or middle ear or along the nerve pathways to the brain. It can also be exacerbated by certain medical conditions or medications.

If a hearing deficit is left untreated, it can contribute to cognitive decline. Hearing loss can also cause anxiety and depression and compromise your social relationships.

If you have difficulty hearing when someone is talking softly or if there’s a lot of background noise, get your hearing tested right away. If your doctor recommends hearing aids, don’t hesitate to get them. These devices don’t have the same stigma that they used to and are easily accessible and less expensive nowadays. You can even purchase them over the counter.

5. Sleep

If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you’re not alone. More than half of adults over 65 experience sleep problems. As you age, you spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep and less in the deeper, more restorative stages, which can cause you to wake up more frequently throughout the night and not feel rested. Medical conditions like sleep apnea, chronic pain, or a frequent need to urinate as well as certain medications can also interfere with a good night’s sleep.

Before you reach for a sleeping pill, some changes in lifestyle may help improve your sleep. Try maintaining a consistent sleep and wakeup time and limit naps during the day. Avoid stimulation before bed, including caffeine, overly exciting television shows, or reading from blue light-emitting electronics. Regular exercise can also help you sleep better, but be sure to schedule your regimen for at least three hours before bedtime. Most importantly, ask your physician if any medications or medical conditions may be affecting your sleep.

Geriatricians – physicians who specialize in the care of older patients – can help you manage your changing aging body and the health issues of growing older.

Kids need pediatricians. Women need gynecologists – and obstetricians when they’re pregnant. Aging adults need geriatric specialists, so we are armed to manage our changing bodies properly and continue to thrive!

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over 10 years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones