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Diseases related to age

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10th-Jan-2017       
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(From previous issue) :
Age-related hearing loss usually occurs due to
Repeated exposures of loud noise to the ears
Hereditary
Medical conditions like diabetes
Chemotherapy drugs
Osteoporosis in the elderly
Osteoporosis is a condition that lowers bone density, causing the bones to be fragile and brittle. The bones become abnormally porous and resembles a sponge.
Osteoporosis is more common among older people, especially in women who are post-menopausal. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is often the course of management. In many, the disease creeps in without symptoms. The victim may be unaware of the condition until a painful fracture occurs. That is why old age is often characterized by falls and fractures, involving various parts of the body.
Research suggests that osteoporosis is strongly linked to genetics. Although a single gene has not been implicated, a combination of alleles of various genes have been understood to play a role in the disease.
Falls in the elderly
Falls in the elderly people often lead to serious injury. One out of three people above the age of 65 or older experience falls every year.
Some of the causes that lead to falls in senior include:
Dizziness
Vision problems
Arthritis
Weakness
Malnutrition
Falls may result in fractures of the hip, spine, arms, pelvis, hands or in the ankle.
Falls in the Elderly
Managing Falls:
Proper exercise, physical therapy and walking helps to strengthen the muscles and improves balance to prevent falls.
It is also advisable that geriatric patients wear proper glasses to avoid vision problems to prevent falls.
Consult the physician before taking any medicines that can make you feel dizzy.
What old age really means?
Older individuals may be physically or mentally challenged and may be forced to be dependent on others for most of their everyday activities. This dependency, compounded by the fact that their 'utility value' has decreased, can lead to despair among the aged. By and large, it is important to be prepared for old age - both physically and emotionally. Good lifestyle habits, such as good food, adequate exercises and regular health checks can slow aging and calm its symptoms to a large extent. Emotionally it is important to accept old age as an inevitable part of life. Once it is accepted it becomes easier to deal with the changes that are integral to aging.
While it is essential for the young to be sympathetic, it is important for the seniors to realize that looking after them is not an easy or an enviable task as it may involve making changes in the routine or life pattern of the care-taker as well.
Understanding and co-operation on the part of the old and a sympathetic, empathetic approach on the part of the caregiver is paramount to geriatric care.
Why do you grow old?
Aging has been a facet of life that has both fascinated and awed man for eons. Many a human life has been spent pondering on the possible causes of aging!
The role of heredity factors in aging have long been realized through the discovery of longevity genes and through the study of the early onset of old-age diseases.
Aging occurs at various levels- at the DNA, cells or tissues. If the cells are not repaired after a DNA damage, cells age or undergo self-destruction (apoptosis). Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, plays a vital role in controlling diseases like cancer. Nevertheless, it plays a crucial role in organ deterioration and failure. Aging is also attributed to the progressive impairment of the genes involved in the maintenance and repair of cells and tissues.
Cell senescence (or replicative senescence) is another phenomenon that is often referred to as the pathway of aging. After about 50 cycles of division, cells reach a 'cul de sac' and lose their ability to divide any further.
Environment too plays an important role in accelerating the aging process. Even if oxygen, which is a requisite for life, exceeds above 50%, the cells become cytotoxic.
Our present day lifestyle choices add to all the existing causes and aggravate morbidity during old age.
What are the signs / biomarkers of aging
There are unique characteristics, signs or 'biomarkers' exclusive to aging. These biomarkers play a distinct role in ushering diseases during old age. The most distinct biomarker is the arrest of cell growth, when the cells stop dividing.
Some of the other prominent ones are listed below -
An increase in the number and size of lysosomes in the senescent cells has been observed (Robbins et al., 1970;).
The enzyme alpha-galactosidase has an abnormal behavior in the senescent or aging cells. This enzyme is normally active at pH 4, but in the case of senescent cells it is active at pH 6 (Judith Campisi et al., 1995).
Increased digestion of the cell's organelles (autophagy) has been observed in senescent/ aging cells (Gerland et al., 2003).
The percentage of polyploid cells (those with more than 2 copies of chromosomes) increases (Matsumura, 1980).
Mutations in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) also increase with age (Tanhauser and Laipis, 1995).
Gene expressions change with age. Fargnoli et al., 1990 discovered a decreased ability in senescent cells to express heat shock proteins. Telomeres are non-coding regions of repeated sequences located at the tip of chromosome. The telomeres are known to shorten with age.
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