Aging, medical lexicon, learning online with lecturio

Aging, medical lexicon, learning online with lecturio


Definition of aging

Aging is a biological process that is no longer reversible and whose essential feature is the preponderance of regressive processes in the organism. Aging is not a disease, it is neither curable and preventable nor is it through "rejuvenator" unstoppable. But aging also means a decreasing adaptability of the body to environmental conditions, eg. As in heat, cold, other diets and lack of oxygen.

Average life expectancy has risen steadily in recent decades: it is now around 73 years for men and 79 years for women. Therefore, in western industrialized societies today, about 18 percent of the population is older than 65 years.

Strictly speaking, humans begin to age from the time of their birth, with considerable differences between the individual cells, tissues and organs. There are young and old cells in every age. But one should not equate the calendar with the biological age: there are – exaggeratedly formulated – young old men and old men of youth. How much the performance of the various organs and functions decreases with age is illustrated in the following table.

It is clear from these figures that aging is not a unified process, but the result of loss of function of the organs due to aging processes in the cells. The aging of the cells may be due to changes in the metabolism, which is controlled by the genetic information in the nucleus. The highest, ideal life expectancy of man is about 120 years. A natural death without the influence of external factors could not be proven until now. People do not die of old age, but of age-related diseases. Longevity is therefore conditioned primarily by heredity; but other factors also play a role: the absence of life-threatening illnesses and accidents; a lesser degree of arteriosclerosis, especially in the heart and brain area; the greatest possible preservation of physical and mental performance through intensive training and favorable social and psychological conditions.

The most common signs of age are:

  • The skin becomes thinner, wrinkled, wrinkled and dry and shows increasingly brown-black age spots and warts.
  • The bones become porous (osteoporosis) and the cartilage tissue dries out, which makes the discs thinner and inelastic. The consequences are signs of wear on the joints (arthrosis), a decrease in height and a stooping posture. In addition, the muscle strength decreases. Rheumatic diseases are increasing.
  • The blood vessels constrict more and more (arteriosclerosis); thus increases the risk of circulatory disorders, heart attack and stroke.
  • Less digestive juices are produced, making it more difficult to use the food.
  • Body cells are lost. The brain becomes smaller and lighter: the performance of the sensory organs decreases.
  • The risk of developing old-age diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease (shaking palsy), diabetes, cataracts and various cancers is increasing.

Subjectively, older people subjectively report the following physical impairments: limited mobility, insomnia, poor memory, headache, dizziness, poor hearing and vision, hair loss, skin folds, easy fatigue, loss of elasticity, cardiovascular disorders.

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Christina Cherry
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