As people age, their bodies change. But what does that mean in terms of health, fitness, and sexuality? Watch this lesson for information on how diet and exercise impact health and how sexuality changes in late life.
Leo and Pearl have been married for almost 60 years! They are both in their 80s now, and they're definitely not the spring chickens they used to be. They have new aches and pains, and gray hair and wrinkles. As they age, they want to stay as young and healthy as possible. But how can they stay young?
Leo and Pearl are in late adulthood, or the time of life after age 65. During late adulthood, people notice many new things occurring in their bodies. The signs of aging, which began all the way back in their 20s, are more pronounced in later life. And, like Leo and Pearl, many people want to try to keep themselves young and healthy. Let's look at some of the changes that occur in late adulthood related to health, fitness, and sexuality, as well as what people can do to help live long and healthy lives.
Diet & Exercise
Leo used to love Pearl's cooking. He would eat all of his dinner and then go for seconds or even thirds! And Pearl would cook lots of different foods: veggies, fruits, whole grains, and meat. But lately, Leo doesn't eat as much. It's like he's lost his appetite. And Pearl, too, eats less, so she's cooking less variety. Instead of a main dish and two side dishes, like she used to make, she'll just make one dish and call it a night.
A key part of health is in the foods that a person eats. As people age, it becomes harder to get all the nutrients that they need. This can be due to many things, including the loss of teeth, which makes some foods difficult to eat, lowered appetite, and a tighter budget.
Like Leo and Pearl, many older adults find that they have a lowered appetite, and they enjoy their foods less. This is in part due to the fact that, as people age, their senses of taste and smell become dull. Leo and Pearl can't smell or taste the food as vividly as they used to, which affects their appetite.
You might be wondering what the big deal is. So what if they don't eat a lot? As we mentioned, this can cause them to not get all the nutrients that they need, which in turn can lower a person's immune system and lead to serious health problems. Take Pearl, for example. Last year, she had a respiratory infection that landed her in the hospital for weeks. It could even have been life-threatening!
So, what can Leo and Pearl do to boost their immune systems? There are two main factors that they can control that can help them improve their health and immune systems:
- Diet: As we said before, they aren't getting enough nutrients. Focusing on nutrient-rich foods and a variety of fruits and vegetables can lead to a healthier immune system and better health in general.
- Exercise: As people age, many of them become less active than they were. But that's a problem! By making sure that they move a little every day, even if it's just going for a walk, Leo and Pearl can boost their immune systems and slow the rate of memory loss that happens in older adults. And that's just the start! Exercise provides many benefits, and by moving every day to increase their overall fitness, Leo and Pearl can help their overall health improve.
Food isn't the only problem Pearl and Leo are facing. Things have gotten a little quiet in the bedroom in recent years, and they worry about it. Sex can still be a part of life into old age, but it becomes more difficult as people age. For women, sex can be more difficult to enjoy due to changes in the vagina as they age. With less elasticity and less lubrication, among other changes, many women (Pearl included) find that sex just isn't as enjoyable as it used to be.
Pearl's not alone, though. Leo's having his own issues in the bedroom. As men age, sex becomes harder to perform. Erectile dysfunction occurs more and more frequently in older men, which means that they have a more difficult time becoming and staying aroused long enough to have sex.
Besides these gender-specific changes, there are other physical problems that can make sex more difficult for older adults. From arthritis to a lowered lung capacity, many couples find that, even if their sexual organs are working fine, other physical ailments make sex more difficult.
What can they do? Being open and honest with each other is important. If Leo and Pearl can talk honestly about the issues they face, the physical limitations of age don't have to become a psychological block in their relationship. Besides, talking to each other may let them find a solution together! In addition, Pearl and Leo can talk to their doctor. There are many medications and treatments that doctors can give to Pearl and Leo to help them keep an active and healthy sex life well into late adulthood.
Late adulthood is the time of life after age 65. During that time, people often face health issues caused by poor diet or lack of exercise. Further, many people discover that sex has become more difficult, either due to gender-specific issues with the sexual organs or other, more general physical ailments. Talking to one's partner and a doctor can help people have happy and healthy sex lives as they age.
Once you've completed this lesson, you'll be able to:
- Identify the age range of late adulthood
- Explain why some people in late adulthood have poor diets
- Describe the benefits to a good diet and exercise in late adulthood
- Summarize why people in late adulthood have problems with sexual health and ways that they can improve their sexual health