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Effects of Aging on Your Body

Effects of Aging on Your Body

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This lesson will look at how the human body changes over time as a person ages as well as identify factors that can affect the aging process.

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Tutorial

What's Covered


How does the human body change as a person ages?  This tutorial will discuss what happens to the body as it ages, specifically focusing on:

  1. Effects of Aging
  2. Conditions with Aging

1. EFFECTS OF AGING

Senescence is a word that means aging. As a person ages, visible (and sometimes non-visual) changes occur in the skin, muscles, and skeleton. 

Skin: Changes in the structure and function of collagen and elastin proteins in the skin causes wrinkles.  As a person ages, proteins change or reduce within the skin, causing skin to wrinkle.  Also, skin becomes more dry due to the breakdown of oil glands.

Height:  Intervertebral disks become more compact as a person ages, causing them to lose some of their height. 


Muscle:  Loss of mass and strength. 

Bones:  Cells become less efficient at generating new tissue. 

Organ Function:  Organ systems begin to decline and become less efficient as the body ages.   


Did You Know

How a person ages can also be affected by their genes and the amount of accumulated DNA damage. Genetics play a role in how a person ages.  You may know someone who appears to have limited visible aging signs and this is due to genetics. Height loss, wrinkles, and/or hair loss may be more evident in some people than others depending on their genetics.

Hair loss is a sign of aging but some people may lose their hair more quickly or may lose more hair than others; this heavily depends on genetics. 

Body cells will divide 80 to 90 times before they die. Telomeres are caps on the ends of chromosomes. As cells divide, they loose a little bit of the of the telomores "cap" until only a little remains and the cell dies.


Terms to Know

  • Senescence
  • The technical term for aging.
  • Collagen
  • The most abundant protein in the human body, collagen is a large fibrous structural protein found in many connective tissues.
  • Elastin
  • A thinner, “stringier” protein than collagen, elastin allows tissues to be stretched when pressure is applied to them and resume their shape once pressure is relieved.



2. CONDITIONS WITH AGING

Three conditions associated with aging are:  

  • Alzheimer's
  • Menopause
  • Andropause

Alzheimer's disease is a disease that affects the brain and is an example of how aging affects the brain. Alzheimer's disease results in memory loss and the decline of normal mental functions. Depending on the severity of the disease, it's going to affect these symptoms. Memory loss or decline of normal mental function in some people with Alzheimer's is more extensive than others. Those are just general symptoms of the disease.

Menopause marks the end of a menstrual cycle and fertility for women. Menopause for women usually happens around age 50. This is around the time a woman will have her last menstrual cycle. It's marking the end of her fertility. The ovaries are producing less estrogen, less progesterone. Menstrual cycle is not occurring, and the woman is no longer able to have children at this point after menopause.

Andropause is often sometimes referred to as male menopause. As a man ages, he will slowly over time have a decrease in testosterone levels. But he is still able to father children into his old age. Andropause is called male menopause, but it's a little bit different, because fertility will decrease, but it won't completely end. Women after menopause are no longer able to have children. But males will have a decrease in testosterone levels actually can still have children into old age.


Terms to Know

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • A form of dementia that is caused by a degeneration of neurons and synapses of the cerebral cortex that causes memory loss and other complications as the disease progresses.
  • Menopause
  • The cessation of menstrual cycles in females that marks the end of her fertility.
  • Andropause
  • Referred to as “male menopause”, andropause is when testosterone levels, libido and fertility decline with age; however males are still able to conceive a child (unlike women).



Summary


This lesson has been an overview on the effects of aging on your body. Senescence is the technical term for aging.  There can be visible signs to aging such as wrinkles or thinning hair, or other conditions such as alzheimers, menopause or audropause.

Good luck.

Source: This work adapted from Sophia Author Amanda Soderlind.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Menopause

    The cessation of menstrual cycles in females that marks the end of her fertility.

  • Andropause

    Referred to as “male menopause”, andropause is when testosterone levels, libido and fertility decline with age; however males are still able to conceive a child (unlike women).

  • Elastin

    A thinner, “stringier” protein than collagen, elastin allows tissues to be stretched when pressure is applied to them and resume their shape once pressure is relieved.

  • Collagen

    The most abundant protein in the human body, collagen is a large fibrous structural protein found in many connective tissues.

  • Alzheimer’s Disease

    A form of dementia that is caused by a degeneration of neurons and synapses of the cerebral cortex that causes memory loss and other complications as the disease progresses.

  • Senescence

    The technical term for aging.