It's no secret your mind and body change as you age. The process starts somewhere in your 30s. Cells begin to die off. Organs work a little less well. This raises your risk for certain diseases and disorders.

But these changes aren't the same for everyone. Genes, lifestyle, and environment all play a role in how you'll feel during your twilight years. And adopting healthy habits early can help you avoid some of these pitfalls.
Here's what's normal — and what's not — as you enter your 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Your brain and cognition — how you think, learn, and remember — change throughout life. That can be a good thing.

The part of your brain in charge of storing vocabulary and general knowledge tends to stay the same or gets stronger with age. And your abstract reasoning skills — the ability to think about complex ideas — stay pretty sharp in most older adults.

But your brain starts to get smaller in your 30s and 40s. That shrinkage speeds up around age 60. On top of less mass, older brains tend to get less blood flow, and the connections between nerve cells slows.
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These age-related changes could have some unwanted side effects.
Once you hit 70, your attention span might get a little shorter and some things might be harder to recall. You might search for words, something scientists dub the "tip-of-the-tongue" state. And it can be harder to learn new information, such as a foreign language.

But your brain can adjust for some things. For instance, you might lose nerve cells in one area and grow more in another. Connections in other areas may strengthen. Some experts think this is the key to what we call wisdom.

Some people make it to 90 without serious cognitive decline. On the other hand, about one-third of people 85 or older might get Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. Some medications or other health conditions may also affect how you think.

It's common to have occasional memory slips as you age. But there's a big difference between misplacing your keys and forgetting what year it is.
Talk to your doctor if you have trouble thinking or remembering things. They'll let you know if it's a normal sign of aging or something more.


A healthy heart can work well at any age. But the shape, strength, and electrical signals of your heart and blood vessels do change over time.

Blood vessels get thicker and stiffer with age. That makes it harder to push blood through your body. Your blood pressure might go up or not stabilize as quickly. You might get dizzy when you stand up.

Around age 60, there tends to be a big decline in "pacemaker" cells. These trigger electrical signals that tell your heart to beat. This slowdown means an older heart can't speed up as fast as a younger one. As a result, you'll notice a dip in your peak heart rate when you're active. Bradycardia, or low heart rate, is also more common in older adults.




The aging process doesn't cause heart and blood vessel problems for everyone. High blood pressure is the most common heart condition for people 75 and older. And heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

Tell your doctor if you have shortness of breath, chest pains, or low energy. Let them know if your heart ever feels like it skips a beat. These could be signs of serious health problems.

An aging immune system is slower and less powerful than a younger one.
So you're more vulnerable to inflammatory diseases, infections, cancer, and other things as you age. For this reason, vaccines don't work as well in most people 65 and older.

Scientists have a name for these age-related changes: immunosenescence and inflamm-aging.

While our overall defenses decline with age, there's some evidence that our immune system adapts in a way that might help us live longer. For instance, you store more memory T cells as you get older. Those are white blood cells that can recognize and attack viruses or bacteria that made you sick in the past.

But aging adults tend to have fewer nave T cells. That's the part of your immune system that learns to fight off new germs, like the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Here's how the five senses are impacted by aging:

Parts of your eye get stiffer, denser, yellower, and drier as you get older. In their 40s, almost everyone starts to get blurry close-up vision. By your 60s, you may not see as well in low light, and colors may look less vivid.
Magnifying glasses and other vision aids can help you see better. But tell your doctor if you have sudden changes or you lose part or all of your eyesight. Some people have eye issues that go beyond age-related decline.

Long-term noise exposure can hurt your hearing. But about half of all people older than 75 have age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis. It happens gradually and usually affects both ears equally.

These two senses go hand in hand. And in your 50s, you might notice that some flavors change, especially sweet and salty ones. Some foods might taste bitter or bland. That's partly because your taste buds generally get less sensitive with age, and nerve endings in your nose die off and the lining becomes thinner and drier.

Older skin has fewer nerve endings. You may be less sensitive to pain, temperature, or pressure. That might raise your odds of certain kinds of injuries, such as burns.
But tell your doctor if you have numbness. Some health conditions can damage your sense of touch beyond age-related changes. Some examples include diabetes, Parkinson's disease, mini-strokes, and arthritis.


Your gums might pull back as you get older.
Tooth enamel can wear down, and teeth can become less sensitive. Your mouth can get a little drier. Common medications can sap your saliva even more.
These age-related changes can leave your mouth vulnerable to bacteria and decay. That ups your odds of tooth loss and cavities.
But there are steps you can take to keep your mouth and teeth healthy at any age.

Keys To a Healthy Brain and Body

Stay Active
If there were a magic bullet for aging, this would be it. Regular physical activity can boost blood flow and help you form new cells and connections in your brain. It can improve your sleep and mood, ease inflammation, and ward off a lot of other health conditions. Dance, garden, go for a walk, or hit the gym – whatever gets you moving at least 150 minutes a week.

Once you hit 60, you might need to give your skin a little more TLC. Your skin can lose moisture faster. It may get dry or irritated easily.

Older bodies also make less collagen and elastin, and you lose fat in certain areas. As a result, your skin tends to sag, wrinkle, and thin. Bruises and scratches may take longer to heal. You also sweat less as you age. You might not be able to cool yourself off quickly if you get hot.

Outside factors also play a role in the look and feel of your skin.
Long-term sun exposure can lead to more wrinkles and dark spots. The sun's rays can also make your skin looser. This kind of "photoaging" affects people with lighter skin faster than those with darker skin. That's because melanin, which gives skin its color, offers some protection from certain kinds of sun-related aging.

Your bones break down and rebuild daily. But once you hit middle age, the breakdown happens faster than the rebuild.

This normal process doesn't hurt, but fragile bones can break easier.
Bone weakness is more common in everyone older than 50. But your odds of low bone mass are higher if you're female. That's partly due to a post-menopausal drop in estrogen, a hormone that supports bone density. Female bones are also smaller and less dense than male bones.

It doesn't happen to everyone, but older people are more likely to get osteopenia. Your doctor might call that low bone mass. It can be an early warning sign of osteoporosis. That's a condition where your bones are very weak and can break easily.

Talk to your doctor about bone loss. You might not have any symptoms until you get hurt. In general, you should get your bone density checked starting at age 65 if you're a woman and 70 if you're a man.

It's natural to lose about 10% to 15% of your muscle mass and strength over your lifetime.

This steady decline starts around age 30 and speeds up after you hit 60. Muscle loss happens for a mix of reasons, including lower levels of muscle-building hormones and changes to your muscle fibers.

Severe muscle loss, or sarcopenia, isn't a natural part of aging. It's often the result of lack of physical activity or another health problem. The condition affects as much as 13% of people ages 60 to 70. That number goes up to 50% for the 80 and older crowd.

The good news is you can avoid or delay a lot of age-related muscle loss. The key is regular resistance, or strength, training. That's exercise that targets your muscles. If you maintain your strength, you're more likely to live independently, fall less, and recover from serious injuries faster.

Resistance training can be safe for all older adults. Talk to your doctor if you don't know how to get started. They can tailor a program just for you. They'll consider any cognitive or mobility issues you have, along with other health problems.
Aim to work out all your major muscle groups 2 to 3 times a week.

Along with regular physical activity and a healthy diet, resistance training may lower unhealthy fat around your belly and internal organs. By the time you turn 75, you may have about twice the amount of body fat you had in your younger years. Too much of it, especially in your midsection, can raise your risk for health problems like diabetes.

It's natural for your metabolism to slow around age 60.
At the same time, you might not be as hungry as you used to be, especially if you can't taste your food very well. Around 20% to 30% of older adults don't eat enough calories.

Older stomachs also lose some of their stretchiness and empty slower. You might feel fuller faster. Muscles in your lower throat might weaken, and the flap that keeps food in your stomach might pop open more often. Around 1 in 4 people older than 75 take heartburn medication.

Compared to when you were younger, your blood sugar might spike more after a meal. That's not a big deal for everyone, but unmanaged high blood sugar can lead to diabetes.

Food might move through your intestines a little slower. That doesn't cause problems for everyone, but up to half of older adults complain of constipation. You also lose certain digestive enzymes as you age, including the one that helps you process dairy.

It's also harder for the aging gut to absorb some nutrients from food.
These are the organs involved in peeing, reproduction, and sex. The aging process can affect them in the following ways:

Vagina.

Post-menopause, lower estrogen levels can sap some of the moisture from your vagina. The tissue can also get thinner and less elastic. For some people, this can cause itching, burning, or pain during sex.

For most women, aging and menopause don't affect sexual satisfaction. But discomfort can. Long-lasting vaginal moisturizers and other lubricants might help. Ask your doctor about them.

Penis.
It's natural for blood flow to go down. You should still be able to have an orgasm and get an erection, but tell your doctor if you can't. Some older men get erectile dysfunction. That's not a natural part of aging. You might need medication or treatment for a health problem that affects your blood vessels.

Kidneys.
For most people, they get smaller and less efficient. Healthy, older kidneys can work well. But there's not much wiggle room for damage. If you're older than 60, check with your doctor about a kidney disease screening. You might not notice symptoms early on.
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Bladder.
Your bladder muscles can harden and get less stretchy. Your bladder wall and pelvic floor muscles can weaken. You might not be able to empty your bladder very well. That can raise your odds of urinary tract infections.

Talk to your doctor about any overactive or underactive bladder issues. Some nerve or muscle problems go beyond the aging process. You could have another health condition, such as diabetes or Parkinson's disease. And health issues such as arthritis can make it hard to get to the toilet quickly.

Prostate gland.
Certain blood markers for prostate health go up with age. Your prostate can also swell as you get older. That might slow or stop pee from leaving your bladder. Or you might pee more often, with less force, and take longer to get started. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you can't pee at all. That's a medical emergency.

Urethra.
This is the tube where your pee comes out. If you're female, it gets shorter and thinner. It might not be able to close all the way. Pee might come out when you don't want it to, like when you cough or sneeze. That's called stress incontinence. Bladder control problems can make this issue worse.
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