Growing Older : A guide to Elderly Care

Growing old is something that happens to all of us. We don’t think about it when young but once we reach middle age then the awareness that we are ‘not as young as we used to be’ sets in.

Many people view this as something to dread but it needn’t be the case. There are people who live to a ripe old age who are still lively and independent right to the end. It is often seen as a time of physical and mental decline but there are things you can do to prevent much of this.

We can’t put the clock back (least not yet!) but we can lead healthier, longer lives.

What does growing old mean for you?

The ageing process

The ageing process is a gradual one in which various processes in the body decline over time. Some of these changes are obvious such as grey hair and wrinkles but others such as thinning of the bones and hardening of the arteries are less so. Basically, ageing is the result of decades of damage to our bodies. This ‘damage’ can be a result of lifestyle, such as smoking or a poor diet, or from internal processes such as cellular ageing from ‘free radicals’.

Our bodies don’t function as well as we age which makes us prone to all sorts of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and strokes.

However, we all age at different rates. Some people age quicker than others and the main reason for this is genetics although lifestyle plays a part. Other factors include location, your environment and psychological wellbeing.

We probably know someone who ‘doesn’t look their age’or is extremely fit and runs marathons even in their seventies. Whilst these may seem like the exception rather than the rule it is possible to maintain a good quality of live, even in your eighties and beyond!

But if you are middle aged and looking ahead or are the son/daughter of an ageing parent then there are things to consider.

It is possible to remain fit and active but this situation can change and there may come a point in life where you or your parent/relative requires help with jobs in the house or long term care. This is where it helps to plan ahead for the future.

Planning for old age

You need to think about eating well, staying physically active and mentally alert. Think about your finances, whether you need help at home (and where you can get it) and what would happen if you are no longer able to cope.

Another aspect which many of us don’t think about is that of making a will. We don’t like to think of what will happen when we are no longer here but it does have to be faced up to. Making a will means that whatever ‘estate’ (property, money and other assets) you have will be shared out amongst your relatives according to your wishes. A will determines what will happen after your death but also think about your affairs during your lifetime.

Who would manage these if you were no longer able to do so?

All of these issues are covered in greater detail in the following sections:

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