Alzheimer's and Aging Research Center of Torrey Pines, California

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Conditions Caused By Aging

The aging process itself also introduces many changes in normal bodily processes. These changes may range in severity and potential for harm, from fairly innocuous to mildly inconvenient to significantly troublesome. In addition, they can complicate other health problems and their treatment. Some of these changes include:

  • Changes in liver and kidney function
    These changes are complex, but in general produce a slowdown in the rate at which these organs can process, excrete, and clear certain substances, such as medicines, from the body. Since standard dosages of medicines are based on how long they stay in the average person's body before they are eliminated, this slowdown in older people's elimination systems means that those standard dosages could be way off and need adjustment.
  • Menopause and post-menopausal issues
    The end of the reproductive cycle in women not only produces a number of uncomfortable side-effect, but also has been shown to increase the risk factors for a number of health issues, including osteoporosis (as mentioned before), certain kinds of cancer, and Parkinson's disease, just to name a few. However, some forms of hormone replacement therapy given to combat these risks and side-effects have been shown by some medical studies to raise risks of other health problems themselves, such as breast cancer and heart disease.
  • Changes in sleep patterns
    As people age, they tend to have greater difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and maintaining the deeper sleep cycles needed for full restful slumber, all of which can have significant effects on health and general wellbeing.
  • Changes in percent of body fat
    This figure tends to rise with age, which can have consequences for cardiovascular health. Also, since many medicines are fat-soluble and thus tend to persist in a person's body fat, an increase in body fat can interfere in complicated ways with the dosages of medicines taken by older people.