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Health in old age

Skin

There are many changes in skin caused by normal ageing process. 3 changes are particularly noticeable. Fat and elastic tissue underneath skin becomes thinner and less elastic; if a fold of skin is pinched on the back of the hand, the skin will return to normal slowly as cells which divide and produce new skin no longer produce normal cells as quickly as before; this allows abnormal cells to multiply giving rise to, for example, small brown spots like freckles, this is further encouraged by sunlight. Skin glands become less productive and skin becomes drier. By the time most people reach 60, their skin has been damaged to some extent. For example, by sunlight, cold winds, and with hands, detergents. It’s important to protect skin from further unnecessary damage. Therefore, use a good barrier cream in strong sunlight, keep soap powders, dish washing liquids and detergent from contact with hands. Avoid getting hands dirty with soil and oil. Also, use some form of simple oil or moisturizer to overcome dryness of skin. Certain types of skin disease are more common as people grow older (e.g dermatitis and eczema and certain types of skin ulcer occur more frequently). Skin disease can be treated effectively and so early medical advice is recommended.

Hair

It’s normal for hair to ‘go grey’ increasing number of hairs become white because of loss of pigment. This is a normal ageing change and there’s nothing that medicine can do to prevent this process, although hairdressers have many treatments. Hairs often fall out as a result of the death of cells of the hair root. In men, this can lead to baldness, but in women the process rarely goes that far.

Feet

By the age of 50/60, your feet have taken a pounding. The first step is to prevent further damage. Shoes should be broad and long enough. Avoid tights stockings or socks that compress toes. Keep the skin in good order; wash and dry feet carefully every day. Be careful not to rub the skin too hard; pat dry and make sure they’re thoroughly dry especially between toes. Keep toe-nails short. Strong leg muscles help support the arch of the foot and prevent aching feet, so being fitter means you’re less likely to suffer. If both feet, or any part of the foot, becomes inflamed, swollen or painful, or if skin colour becomes white, dusky red or purple, seek medical advice; blood circulation to the foot may be affected.

Watching Your Diet

It’s important to balance your diet, no matter what your age. It is wise to eat food from each of the following food-group every day:

* Dairy products (e.g. milk, cheese, yoghurt)

* Meat, fish, eggs, pulses

* Fruit and vegetables

* Cereal foods (e.g. bread, rice, flour)

* Oils and fats (e.g. butter, margarine and foods made with them, such as cakes and biscuits) foods from the first 4 groups should form the largest part of diet. Choosing a wide variety of foods helps to ensure a broad intake of nutrients as well as making eating more enjoyable. You may need smaller portions of food as you become less active. However, you still need as many vitamins and minerals as before. On retirement your eating habits may change. For example, you may prefer to have a substantial lunch and a lighter meal in the evening. You may decide to eat out more. It could be a time when you try out new foods, such as different varieties of vegetables, fruits or cheese. Diet is very important to continued health, so be adventurous and enthusiastic about your cooking and eating.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.