What Is the Difference Between Normal Aging & Abnormal Aging?

What Is the Difference Between Normal Aging & Abnormal Aging?

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ECH_What Is Normal Aging vs Abnormal Aging

When you hear the word “aging,” many different associations probably come to mind. Maybe your first thought was something positive like wisdom or retirement. Or maybe your mind jumped to something negative like hearing loss. Whatever you thought of, chances are it’s because either you or someone you love has experienced these exact changes.

While the above associations are all normal parts of aging, there are times when adults age “abnormally,” and their health might just not be what it should be. Fortunately, there are warning signs you can look out for to make sure your loved one is aging positively.

Let’s take a look at a few key areas where you might notice a difference between normal and abnormal aging in someone you love.

Normal vs. Abnormal Memory Loss

We’ve all had times where we couldn’t quite remember something. Maybe it was where we put the keys, the name of someone we were talking about or even when we were supposed to meet someone for lunch. These are all fairly normal things that people young and old will forget at one point or another.

But when should your loved one’s memory loss raise concerns? Abnormal memory loss can come on very suddenly or be very persistent. It can also affect major pieces of information — like their address, your name, or their birthday. If any of these happen, or if there are other factors that make you suspicious, then it’s time to seek a professional opinion.

Abnormal vs. Normal Eyesight

It is incredibly common to slowly lose sight as we age. While your loved one has likely moved beyond the simple reading glasses stage, if they are continuously having trouble reading or they complain often about running into things or falling, there might be a bigger issue at play.

Problems like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration are all potential vision issues that could affect your loved one. The best thing you can do to help them prevent or catch these conditions early is to encourage them to have an annual eye exam. 

Normal vs. Abnormal Behavioral Change

While your loved one’s behavior might change slightly as they age, if you begin to notice major shifts in their mood or actions, it would be a good idea to schedule a visit to the doctor. Severe mood swings, becoming easily tired in the afternoon, and inappropriate behaviors (like irrational tears or anger) could be a sign of dementia

Abnormal vs. Normal Touch

Chances are your loved one’s sensitivity to touch will decrease as they age. If they begin to feel numbness in their hands, though, that is a sign of abnormal aging. In fact, it could be a symptom of a much bigger problem.

If the numbness is on one side of their body and comes on suddenly, it could be a sign of a stroke. In this case, call 911 or take them to the emergency room immediately. 

Numbness in seniors can also indicate problems with diabetes or even a negative reaction to medications. It should always be taken seriously, and if it persists, they should seek medical care.

How to Promote Healthy Aging

Healthy aging is everyone’s goal, and there are a few things you and your loved ones can do to make the aging process a positive one. Begin by staying as active as possible. Even if it just means a walk around the block, regular exercise can boost mood, lower blood pressure and increase metabolism. Any exercise is good exercise, especially for seniors. (As always, check with a doctor before adding any major exercise to your loved one’s routine.)

Eating healthier is another excellent way to improve your loved one’s aging. It can help prevent diabetes and lower the risk of obesity, which can be a major problem for seniors. Talk to a doctor or dietician to create a healthy menu your loved one can enjoy.

By taking steps to promote healthy aging and understanding the warning signs of abnormal aging, you can provide the best possible care for your senior loved one. Senior health can be difficult to navigate, but now you know when to take action and when to simply enjoy the benefits of aging. 

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Kristin Davenport
January 02, 2020
Kristin Davenport is the Director of Communications for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Kristin leads ERS’s efforts to share stories that delight and inspire through social media, online content, annual reports, magazines, newsletters, public relations, and events. Kristin earned her BFA in graphic design from Wittenberg University. She joined ERS in 2014 after a 25-year career as a visual journalist and creative director with American City Business Journals. Her role at ERS has ignited her passion for making Cincinnati a dementia-inclusive city, and she spends time with residents as a SAIDO® Learning lead supporter. Kristin is the executive producer and co-host of the Linkage Podcast for ERS. Kristin and her husband Alex live in Lebanon, Ohio, with their two daughters. She also serves as a Trustee and the President of the Lebanon Food Pantry and is a board member for ArtScape Lebanon, where she teaches painting and has an art studio, Indium Art.

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