You’re bound to experience some perfectly normal changes as you get older. The trick is to come to terms with the things you simply can’t control and take charge of the things you know you can. Here’s a summary of what’s ahead.
Not so bright eyes?
The first indication that you are getting older may be how far away from your eyes you have to hold the newspaper. If you hold it at arm’s length and your eyes tire easily, then you probably have presbyopia (‘old eye’). The lenses in your eyes are less flexible and can’t shift as easily from distant to near sight.
After the age of 40 you also have a higher risk of getting glaucoma, a build-up of pressure in the front of the eyes that can cause damage to the optic nerve and may produce blind spots or loss of peripheral vision. You may also develop cataracts that cloud your lenses and restrict your vision. Early detection is important for both problems.
What was that?
Hearing losses actually begin in your twenties. High-frequency sounds start to fade first, then by the age of about 65, you may start to miss low-frequency sounds before hearing loss becomes noticeable. Not everyone becomes hard of hearing, but more than a third of people over the age of 65 have significant problems. Changes in the inner ear can also affect your balance, so you have to be more careful to prevent falls.
As you age, you literally become thin skinned. You gradually lose that youth-giving cushion of fat that lies just beneath the skin, as well as the protein substances, collagen and elastin, and natural skin oils. As your skin gets gradually thinner and more transparent, you may begin to see tiny little veins underneath. You may also see some hyperpigmented areas, or liver spots — just remember that these aren’t harmful. What is harmful is exposure to the sun, which will, at the very least, worsen your wrinkles and your overall skin condition, even if it doesn’t lead to skin cancer.
You can minimise these problems by drinking plenty of water, wearing sunscreen, eating a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables and cleansing your skin gently. Although it won’t give you back the skin you were born with, tretinoin (brand names Retin-A, Retrieve and Stieve-A) improves the texture and appearance of your skin. Available only on prescription, it peels away dead skin cells and boosts the production of collagen, ropelike protein strands that support the skin.
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