Aging is the process of growing older and includes changes
in both biology and psychology. Biology refers to the way the body
functions. Psychology describes how the mind
functions. How people age has to do with genetics, environment,
and lifestyle over a lifetime.
What is the information for this topic?
Experts do not really know why the body ages as a
person gets older. The average life span in 1900 was 47 years.
Now, life expectancy is age 76. This increase is due to improvements
in sanitation, medical care, and the discovery of antibiotics. The
increase in the number of older people is changing the makeup of society.
The aging process can be divided into three parts:
genetic, which means it is influenced by the factors and conditions
that are passed on from parents to offspring
biochemical, which refers to activities in the cells, tissues, and
organs of the body
physiological, which means how the body and all of its components
There are two major theories on aging. People who follow
the program theory think that aging is based on a biological timetable.
Others who believe in the damage or error theory say that aging occurs
as the environment assaults the body and causes it to age. Many
people believe it is both biology and environment that causes aging.
The major beliefs for each theory are listed below:
The beliefs of the program theory are as follows:
Genes switch on and off in turn, causing different things to
happen at different times. Organ systems in each person can age at
Hormones act as a biological clock controlling the pace of aging.
The immune system breaks down, later leaving a person more
and more prone to infection and disease.
Following are the major beliefs of the damage or error theory:
Cells and tissues have vital parts that wear out.
If a person has a high metabolic rate, his or her life span will be shorter.
Proteins in the body build up. This slows down the body's processes,
and the body begins to age.
Oxygen radicals collect in the body and damage it. The organs
eventually stop working.
The system in the body that synthesizes proteins stops working well.
Faulty proteins are developed and cause damage to cells, tissues, and organs.
Genes mutate as the body ages, causing cells to malfunction
and break down.
Experts used to believe that chronic disease and disability
were always part of aging. Now it is known that much disease can be
prevented or controlled. Living a healthy lifestyle can have a huge positive
impact on aging and preventing disease. The three leading causes of death
among people in developed nations are
Medical experts know a great deal about how to prevent death from
While a person's genetic makeup cannot be changed, there
are things that one can do to improve his or her lifestyle:
Stay active. Without exercise, muscle mass declines about
23% between the ages of 30 and 70. Exercise can prevent muscle
Maintain a healthy weight. People who are as little as 11 pounds
over the healthy weight range for their height and build have more
risk of disease. Eating fewer calories may work by preserving cells,
moderating a decline in growth hormone, and keeping the immune
system working well.
and avoid being around smoke from tobacco.
Maintain active personal relationships. People who are
married or who have healthy, supportive relationships with others live longer.
Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Follow the
food guide pyramid.
Fruits and vegetables have naturally occurring antioxidants that prevent free
radicals from damaging cells in the body.
Avoid getting too much sun. Frequent, long exposures to
the ultraviolet light in sunshine can age the skin and increase the risk for skin
Keep fat in the diet under 30% of total calories. Also, get the nutrients
needed for a healthful diet.
Have routine physical exams
as recommended by the doctor.
and practice stress-reduction techniques.
Limit alcohol intake.
These specific practices have been linked with both the
prevention of diseases and a person's quality of life as he or she ages.