Changes in posture and gait (walking pattern) are one of the common issues with the old age along with the changes in skin and hair color. The skeleton of a body is the support system and gives structure to the body. Joints are the areas where bones come together. They also allow the skeleton to be flexible for the body movement. In a joint, bones do not directly contact each other. Instead, they are cushioned by cartilage in the joint, synovial membrane around the joint, and the fluid.
Muscles provide force and strength to move the body. Coordination is directed by the brain but is affected by changes in the muscles and joints. Changes in the muscles, joints, and bones affect the posture and walk, and lead to weakness and slowed movement.
Changes Due To Old Age
A human lose bone mass or density as they age, for women it is usually after the menopause. The bones lose calcium and other minerals which are essential to the body. The spine is made up of the bones called vertebrae. Between each bone a gel-like cushion (called a disk) will be there. The middle of the body (trunk) becomes shorter as the disks gradually lose fluid and become thinner as the age goes on.
Vertebrae also lose some of their mineral content, making each bone thinner. The spinal column becomes curved and compressed (packed together). Bone spurs are caused because of the aging and overall use of the spine may also form on the vertebrae. The foot arches become less pronounced and weak, contributing to a slight loss of height.
The long bones of the arms and legs become more brittle because of mineral loss, but they do not change their length. This helps the arms and legs look longer when compared with the shortened trunk.
The joints become stiffer and less flexible due to the fluid in the joints decrease. The cartilage might start to rub together and wear away. Minerals might start depositing in and around some joints (calcification). This is the common problem in the shoulder.
Hip and knee joints might begin to lose cartilage (degenerative changes). The finger joints lose cartilage and the bones starts to thicken slightly. Finger joint changes are more common in women and these changes could be inherited. Few joints like ankle, typically change with aging.
Lean body mass decreases, partly caused by the loss of muscle tissue (atrophy). It seems like the speed and amount of muscle changes are to be caused by genes. Muscle changes often begin in the 20s in men and in the 40s in women.
Lipofuscin (an age-related pigment) and fat are deposited in muscle tissue. The muscle fibers shrink. Muscle tissue is replaced more slowly. The muscle tissue is lost could be replaced with a tough fibrous tissue. This is seen more in the hands, which may look thin and bony.
Muscles are less toned and are less in contract because of changes in the muscle tissue and normal aging changes in the nervous system. Muscles might become more rigid with age and may lose tone, even with regular exercise.
Effects In The Body Due To Changing:
Bones start becoming more and might be able to break more easily. Overall height decreases, mainly because of the trunk and shortening of the spine. Breakdown of the joints might lead to inflammation, pain, stiffness, and deformity. Joint changes affect almost all elderly people. These changes range from minor stiffness to severe arthritis.
The posture might become more stooped (bent). The knees and hips may become more flexed and the neck might tilt, and the shoulders may narrow while the pelvis becomes wider. The Movement slows and might also become limited. The walking pattern (gait) becomes slower and shorter. Walking might become unsteady, and there is less arm swinging. Aged people could get tired more easily and they will have less energy.
Strength and endurance change is a major change that could be seen in the aged people. Loss of muscle mass reduces the strength in bones and overall body. But changes in muscle fibers may also improve endurance. Aging athletes with healthy hearts and lungs may find that their performance improves in the events that require endurance, but decreases in events that require short bursts of high-speed performance.
Common Problems Seen in Old Age People
Osteoporosis is one of the common problem, especially for older women. Bones break more easily. Compression fractures of the vertebrae can cause pain and reduce mobility. Muscle weakness contributes to fatigue, weakness, and reduced activity tolerance. Joint problems ranging from mild stiffness to debilitating arthritis (see osteoarthritis) are very common.The risk of injury keep increasing because gait changes, instability, and loss of balance may lead to falls.
Some elderly people have reduced reflexes. This is most often caused by the changes in muscles and tendons, rather than changes in the nerves. Either the decreased knee jerk or the ankle jerk can occur and these are normal part of aging.
Exercise is one of the best ways to slow down or prevent the problems with the muscles, joints, and bones. A moderate exercise program can also help you maintain strength, balance, and flexibility. Exercise helps the bones to stay strong.
It is important to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of calcium and vitamins. Women need to be careful to get enough calcium and vitamin D as they age. Postmenopausal women and men over age 65 should take 1,200 mg of calcium and 400 to 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day.
As we grow older, falls become a common reason for injuries. Just ask any of the thousands of older men and women who fall in each year and break a bone. Falls can come as a result of other changes in the whole body.The more you take care of your health and well-being, the more likely you’ll be to lower your chances of falling. If need be, your doctor can prescribe new medications that will help make your bones stronger and harder to break.