Physical Aging and its Social Consequences

Senior (College 4th year) ・Psychology ・APA ・4 Sources

Aging can be defined as the process undergone by a human being when growing older. This is expressed by the accumulation of numerous changes that take place over time. These changes in human life are psychological, physical, and social changes (Saxon, Etten & Perkins, 2014). With hypotheses describing the damage principle of the genetic material or the internal mechanisms that occur on the genetic material causing this process to occur, the causes of the aging process remain unclear. This write-up focuses on the changes in the different organ systems and discusses the chronic diseases' racial and gender differences.

Comparison of the Normal, Age Related Changes in Various Organ Systems

The vital organs in the body lose function with age. The changes are viewed to occur in all the cells, tissues, the organs, and the organ system of the body. These changes affect the normal functioning of the body systems.

The urinary system is involved in the cleaning of the blood through the complex glomeruli filtration process. The kidney nephrons are involved in the cleaning of the blood where the necessary minerals and ions are restored back to the body while the wastes are allowed to move to the ureter for excretion from the body in the form of urine. As the person ages, the kidneys reduces in weight and volume, with the corresponding reduction of the glomeruli by about 30% from the age of 30 to 65 years (Belsky et al., 2015). Their capacity to absorb glucose is lost with age and also their diluting and concentrating ability. This results in the dehydration and hyponatremia related problems.

The gastrointestinal system is made of the esophagus, the stomach, the intestines, the colon, the liver, and the biliary tract. The esophagus shows the alteration of the function without showing the age related changes. These are for example, the decreased contraction rate of the muscles. The sphincter takes time to open and gives more time for the food to move to the stomach thus, the older people have sensation of being full with less food consumption. The secretion of the stomach digestive juice diminishes after 50 years of age. This increases the rate of inflammation such as the atrophic gastritis in the stomach lining. This makes the older people to be predisposed to stomach and colon cancer. The intestines reduce in weight with age of 40. The number of the functional enzymes reduces in the small intestines. The liver becomes smaller by 20% with age (Saxon, Etten & Perkins, 2014). The functional changes are not majorly affected but the processing of the medication reduces.

The endocrine system is characterized by the production of the various hormones. The main age related change is the menopause characterized by the reduced production of the progesterone and the estrogen hormone. The majority of the hormones reduce with age such as the thyroid hormones, the growth hormone, insulin, and the testosterone hormone. Glucose metabolism is mainly poor with age due to the insulin hormone production irregularities in older people.

The immune system is affected also with age with the older people being more susceptible to the infectious diseases. The death of the majority of the older people at age of 80 is related to the infectious diseases and indicates the cases of the failure of the immune system. There is reduced production of the B-cells, T-cells, and the lymphocytes with age. The age related changes in the various physiological processes have an influence on the immune function with age. The cancers and the cardiovascular diseases are related to the altered immune systems.

The nervous system also undergoes changes where the neurons and the supporting glial cells undergo changes. The loss of the neurons begins at the age of 30. The moderate loss does not alter the brain function but severe loss with age reduces brain function. The brain reduces its weight by 10% with age with an accumulation of the lipofuscin and the reduced rate of the transmission of the information between the neurons. The changes in the neurotransmission and the synapse structure impair the motor and the cognitive function. The electroencephalograms of the brain shows reduced response with age. There is a general reduced speed of information or the signal conduction in the nervous system.

When compared to all the organ systems, the renal function which is the rate of the filtration of the blood through the kidney is the leading organ system to deteriorate dramatically as age advances in human irrespective of the disease infection. This makes the tolerance to drugs to reduce with age because of the reduced filtration. This can be linked to the reduced filtration ability. The problem is worsened by the deterioration of the bladder function. The capacity reduces by about 50% with age accompanied by the reduced sensation of bladder emptying process. The sensation is, however, linked to the central nervous system dysfunction.

The digestive system on the other hand, has many reserves that are inbuilt and the aging process has less effect on its function (Belsky et al., 2015). Therefore, its function is less affected than the other function systems.

The majority of the people respond to the changes by modifying the physical environment or their habits to reduce the rush situations such as shopping in smaller stores when they are not crowded, avoiding the freeway driving, and leaving the house earlier before appointments. These environment adaptations are mostly done in driving.

The Ethnic and Gender Differences in Chronic Diseases

The incontinence is the chronic urinary disease that affects the control of the urine or feces. The disease has been described to affect 17 % of men more than the 35% of the women of age above 65. There are two types of the disease; the stress incontinence characterized by leakage due to coughing or sneezing, and the urge incontinence associated with the stronger urge to urinate due to irregular muscle contraction. The majority of the cases are associated with the mixture of the two conditions called the mixed incontinence. With age in women, the urethra and the bladder descend resulting in the stress incontinence. Various treatments of this chronic disease exist but are associated with the diverse side effects.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affects the lung tissue and increases with age. The causes are genetic and environmental such as smoking of cigarettes. The men in the oldest group above 85 years are three times more likely to die due to this chronic disease. Those exposed are likely to be exposed to air pollutants and those predisposed due to the genetic inheritance (Divo et al., 2015). There are various treatment methods for the chronic diseases that are used in the treatment process.

Arthritis is among the common chronic disease that mainly affects the older people. Arthritis includes about 100 inflammation conditions of the bones and joints. Women are more likely to be affected by the disease at age of above 65 years but are more prevalent in women of above 85 years. The percentage of those affected is 60% compared to the 40% of their male counterparts (Krams et al., 2013). The disease reduces the physical activity rate due to the associated pain making the affected to be more increase in the prevalence of obesity especially in the US makes arthritis to be more common especially in the elders.  


Belsky, D. W., Caspi, A., Houts, R., Cohen, H. J., Corcoran, D. L., Danese, A., ... & Sugden, K. (2015). Quantification of biological aging in young adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(30), E4104-E4110.

Divo, M. J., Casanova, C., Marin, J. M., Pinto-Plata, V. M., de-Torres, J. P., Zulueta, J. J., ... & Davila, R. B. (2015). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease comorbidities network. European Respiratory Journal, ERJ-01716.

Krams, T., Ruyssen-Wtrand, A., Nigon, D., Fautrel, B., Berenbaum, F., Cantagrel, A., & Constantin, A. (2013). SAT0022 In Rheumatoid Arthritis, Younger Age at Onset is Associated with a Higher Rate of Remission at 1 Year: Results from a French Cohort of Early Arthritis Patients (Espoir Cohort). Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 72(Suppl 3), A586-A587.

Saxon, S. V., Etten, M. J., & Perkins, E. A. (2014). Physical change and aging: A guide for the helping professions. Springer Publishing Company.

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