Prepare for the physical changes of getting older

Help the aging cope early; know the facts

At Gramercy Court, a skilled nursing facility in Sacramento, CA, staff understand the aging process.

"We are used to being around seniors, so we don’t have expectations from the past. When they come to Gramercy, we accept them the way they are," says Janet Hamil, director of marketing.

Some of the signs of aging that staff are taught include the following:

• Vision

After the age of 60, a person’s ability to see drops dramatically. Changes in the lens make it more difficult to see close objects clearly, see well in poor lighting conditions, and distinguish some colors.

• Hearing

Individuals older than the age of 65 are more likely to need a hearing aid than younger people. They often have difficulty hearing certain pitches or screening out background noise.

• Taste and smell

As people age a reduction in nerve sensitivity impairs their ability to taste and smell. Therefore, food is often no longer as flavorful.

• Motor Performance

Motor coordination and speed decline with age. Also, bone mass declines from 5% to 10% each decade after age 40.

• Cardiovascular

After the age of 60, the heart pumps about 1% less blood per year. Consequently, elderly people’s hearts do not respond to stress or heavy exercise as well as a young person’s heart.