Your body doesn’t come with a user’s manual. So, as we age, some changes can take us by surprise.
Still, there are things that happen to the body at different stages of life that are fairly predictable. Some even universal.
These shifts happen in everyone who lives long enough. As I approach my 70s, I’m watching some of them show up.
You may not be able to avoid these changes — unless you’ve taken exceptional care of your body your whole life — but you can be prepared for them. Here, then, are some things that you can expect as your body enters its eighth decade on the earth.
9 bodily systems that change once you’re 70
Your mind. Few things are more frustrating than talking to someone and not being able to come up with the right word to finish a thought or, even worse, forgetting the name of someone you know well.
Parts of our brain simply shrink as we get older, so the signaling between those areas slows down. If this makes you concerned about Alzheimer’s disease, don’t worry — Alzheimer’s and dementia cause much more severe trouble with memory and everyday tasks.
But if you want to try to offset brain shrinkage, lots of research points to increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids, like you’d find in fatty fish.
Your heart. The walls of your heart to thicken with age its valves get stiffer. There may be occasional glitches in our heart’s electrical system, which we experience as irregular heartbeats. Alcohol can impact irregular heartbeat related to Atrial fibrillation.
Exrcise is always great for the heart. You may not be able to go at it like you did in your 50s, but keep moving at a pace you’r comfortable with. It’s important to keep up with regular checkups and report anything you notice to your physician.
Your skin. This is the time when age spots and wrinkles show up. You may also find that you bruise more easily and that you sweat less. Your skin may feel drier and thinner, and become itchy and irritated more easily.
Lotions can help but so can diet. Omega-6 is used by your body to create the ceramides that keep your skin cell membranes strong and healthy. Omega-3 is needed for your immune system and to keep inflammation balanced, both of which can determine whether your skin looks clear, even, and younger or is showing more signs of aging than your years would warrant.
Metabolism and nutritional needs. Losing weight is much more difficult now than it was in our 40s or 50s. That’s because our metabolism slows as we age.
Some people find they don’t get as hungry or thirsty as they once did. Changes in your bodies could also leave you short on Vitamins D3 and B12.
In your 70s, your muscles naturally weaken, and your tendons get stiffer. The result is a decrease in both strength and flexibility.
This is the age where you might find yourself “shrinking,” losing an inch or two of height as the discs in your back flatten.
Your immune system. While allergies at this age are less severe, and autoimmune diseases are rare, you are more vulnerable to illness in general.
Like everything else, your immune system isn’t as functional as it used to be. In the last decade, we’ve learned more about the immune system than ever before. When functioning properly it fights infection, but an overactive immune response has been tied to inflammation which has been found to fuel chronic disease. Healthy lifestyle practices help keep it in check.
Your digestive system. Constipation is probably the most common problem at this age. Your digestive system doesn’t move food through quite as efficiently as it used to.
Also, your stomach lining is more fragile, which raises the odds of having ulcers, especially if you take a lot of aspirin or NSAIDs.
Fiber is always a good choice to improve motility. Just be sure you get plenty of soluble and insoluble fiber. Apples are a good source of both.
Your urinary tract. Chances are you’ll find yourself in the bathroom more often. Your bladder can’t hold as much as it once did, and the muscles that support it have lost some strength.
Many women in their 70s have trouble with urine leaking. Men may develop prostate trouble, which can cause difficulty with urinating.
Oddly enough, those weakened bladder muscles may start squeezing when you really don’t need to urinate, leading to an overactive bladder that can interrupt your sleep by sending you to the bathroom more often.
Your hearing. About a third of people ages 65 to 74 have hearing loss.
It may not be dramatic at first. High-pitched sounds are especially hard to distinguish, so it’s harder to understand what others are saying. You may also find that background noise is suddenly making it hard to have a conversation, where before it didn’t matter.
How to take these changes in stride… and continue enjoying life!
There’s no need to let these natural changes (called “pure aging” by some experts) slow you down or interfere with your quality of life.
Here are some things you should do now to prepare and continue doing as you enter your 70s…
- Lower your risk of heart trouble with healthy habits, such as exercise, eating a heart-healthy diet and not smoking.
- Switch to gentler soap and use moisturizer and sunscreen regularly. You might also try a humidifier.
- Choose foods that pack more nutrients into fewer calories, such as fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Check with your doctor about whether you should be taking a vitamin supplement.
- Weight-bearing exercises can prevent and even reverse changes to your bones, joints and muscles.
- Digestive trouble is sometimes due to medications, so check with your doctor if this is an issue. Regular exercise also keeps the digestive system working well.
- If changes to your hearing are interfering with everyday activities, talk with your doctor about possible solutions, including hearing aids.
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What to Expect in Your 70s — Web MD