What are some examples of the physical and cognitive changes people go through when they enter late adulthood?


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Iris Phillips answered
Late adulthood brings many changes in both physical and cognitive ways. Some of the physical changes are external, or visible, while others are internal, relating to gradual changes in bodily systems and sensory capacity. Cognitive changes manifest themselves in the ability to deal with bereavement, the application of wisdom to everyday life and the general outlook, or attitude towards life.

  • External Physical Changes
External changes may manifest themselves through aging skin, graying hair, the appearance of wrinkles and a change in overall posture, as well as a general slowing down in activities.

  • Internal Physical Changes
Internal changes occur as a result of the body's internal regenerative processes slowing down. They may affect the respiratory, gastro-intestinal, cardiovascular and central nervous systems.

As functions slow down, the immune system of a body can also be affected, making the elderly more susceptible to illnesses. The deterioration of bone structures also increases the risk of injuries.

It becomes more difficult to remember things, because the brain not only loses some of its volume over a life time, it is also crammed full with information and the processes of accessing this information begin to slow.

  • Changes in Sensory Capacity
Often, eyesight, hearing, taste, smell and touch begin to slowly deteriorate. Losing one of the senses altogether, in particular eyesight and hearing, can result in profound social and psychological consequences.

  • Cognitive Changes
As people age, they begin to see life in a different way. They apply their life long experiences and wealth of factual knowledge to life's problems, and begin to accept and deal with the reality of death. Priorities change from accumulating wealth and knowledge to appreciating life and its beauty.

Aging affects everyone differently, and many individuals are living healthy, enjoyable lives, while others experience serious problems. More detailed information can be found at Late Adulthood.

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