What changes happen in your 50s?What do you expect in this decade? We all age at a different pace and our lifestyle does make a difference but there are some common changes in our physical and mental health in our 50s.
By: Mary Krueger, Douglas County Senior Coordinator, Alexandria Echo Press
What do you expect in this decade? We all age at a different pace and our lifestyle does make a difference but there are some common changes in our physical and mental health in our 50s.
The good news about our skin is the likelihood of getting an outbreak of acne is greatly reduced. Our skin is getting drier and blemishes are less common. On the other hand, the loss of muscle, bone and fat under the skin, along with changes in collagen and elastin, are making fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable. You may also notice age spots and skin tags.
Our senses of taste, smell and touch remain mostly intact, but you will probably need reading glasses. The lenses in our eyes stiffen, making it harder to focus up close. You also may become sensitive to glare and your night vision may decrease. Dry eyes are also more common.
Our metabolism typically slows down about 5 percent per decade. That doesn’t mean you have to gain weight. Just stay active and gradually decrease your calories. Eat more foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products and fish.
We can have fewer “free” calories for sweets and sodas. Our stomach starts to empty more slowly, which means we need to increase our fiber and water intake.
Aging and inactivity lead to achy joints because our cartilage is wearing down. Try to maintain a normal weight and do some strength training. If you hear snapping, creaking and popping in your joints, this is usually not a serious problem. It may be ligaments tightening around a moving joint, a tendon snapping over a joint or nitrogen “popping” in the fluid inside the joint. Talk to your doctor if these noises are also accompanied by pain, swelling or numbness.
Our heart walls are also getting thicker and our valves are stiffening up. Many people in their 50s start to develop the first signs of heart disease. If you are healthy and active you are more likely to have a healthy heart. It’s never too late to grab those running shoes and get moving.
Allergies may become less severe because our immune system is not usually as sensitive. This also means we are more susceptible to getting sick. Try to get rid of those extra pounds, eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep.
By the time we are in our 50s, 15 to 20 percent of us get up at least twice in the night to go to the bathroom. Try to decrease fluids after 6 p.m. and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Stress incontinence – urine loss when coughing or sneezing – affects about a third of women in their 50s. This is often caused by vaginal deliveries and the decline of estrogen. Talk to a doctor about medications and Kegel exercises, which strengthen muscles around your uterus, bladder and rectum.
More than a third of men older than 50 will experience moderate to severe symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Symptoms include difficulty urinating. Contact your doctor if you have this issue.
The really good news about this age is that we are happier. We realize that bad times are going to pass. We are also better at appreciating the good times as we know that those, too, will pass. We need to stay sharp and our capacity to learn new things stays strong, so get out there and learn something new every day and enjoy life.