Factors Which Influence Ageing

By Laura Behroozi

There are many factors which influence ageing from health and well being factors to age related diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

Diseases

There are a number of diseases which can affect ageing. Alzheimer's disease for example, is a progressive brain disease that causes memory loss and effects cognitive functioning over a long period of time. It even progresses to the point when simple everyday tasks can not be completed by an individual with alzheimer's. This disease is most common for people to start developing symptoms after the age of 65. However, it can also occur in younger people. Having alzheimer's disease has a big impact on an individuals life expectancy as it is said people with this disease usually die 9 years after clinical diagnosis.

http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet


Osteoporosis is yet another disease which influences the ageing process. Osteoporosis is a progressive condition which makes bones become weak, brittle and very fragile. Due to bones becoming fragile, individuals with osteoporosis are at a higher risk or breaking bones. From the age of 35 plus, individuals gradually begin to lose bone density. Osteoporosis can occur in both men and women and is the cause for almost all hip fractures in the elderly. This condition can cause a lot of pain and even severe physical disability which results in a decreased quality of life. Also, broken/fractured hip and vertebral can lead to a decreased life expectancy.

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Osteoporosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Health and wellbeing related factors which influence ageing

An individuals lifestyle effects their ageing process and life expectancy. An individual who is a non smoker, drinks very rarely or never, consumes a healthy balanced diet and exercises on a regular basis has a chance of being healthier and living longer than someone who doesn't. If an individual smokes, drinks or takes drugs for a very long period of time, they are more at risk of developing health related conditions which could shorten their life expectancy. For example, a heavy smoker may get lung cancer which could eventually make the individuals health deteriorate further and further until they die.


A study found that individuals who are smokers, who do a lack of exercise, eat unhealthily and drink alcohol regularly have a three times more increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and they are almost four times more likely to die from cancer.

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=115751

Life Expectancy Calculator - This is Britain with Andrew Marr - Preview - BBC Two

Living conditions also plays a role in an individuals ageing process. Living conditions will consist of the weather, noise/air pollution, work, family and housing conditions. For example, someone living in a city is likely to consume more air pollution over their lifetime than someone living in the countryside, therefore, the individuals living in the city are less likely to live as long as the other individual.

Exposure to excessive sunlight can cause serious health problems which can have a negative impact on the process of ageing. For example, too much sunlight can cause skin cancer.


If someone lived within a damp, cold or/and overcrowded environment they are at a higher risk of developing many illnesses which could lead to their health deteriorating. If for example, it's an elderly person living within those conditions, they have a high chance of developing hypothermia and they would be more susceptible to many illnesses which could result in a shorter life span.


Cold, damp conditions will also lead to mould growing within the environment, which can lead to children suffering from serious illnesses such as gastroenteritis and chronic asthma. Mould has also been found to cause respiratory problems and allergic reactions. Living in a cold housing environment has been proven to link with breathing disorders, strokes and heart disease which if experiences, could have a negative affect on the individuals life span. Suffering from these conditions could also link to having other health problems too. Having these serious health conditions from a young age could affect the effectiveness of their immune system, meaning throughout their life they could be more susceptible to other health conditions which would have an affect on their ageing process and life span. This is because their body may not be strong enough to fight of serious illnesses which could be fatal.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1866586.stm


Financial factors also play a role in an individuals ageing process. A family with a low income may be unable to provide themselves with a good nutritional balanced diet including fruit and vegetables as these can be more expensive to buy. With a limited income they may not be able to keep the whole house warm during the winter but instead limit the heating to just one main room in the house. This could impact an individuals health and in severe circumstances could cause hypothermia.


Bereavement can affect an individual physically, mentally and emotionally. It can cause feelings of loneliness, social isolation and depression which may lead to them having suicidal thought. They may even turn to alcohol or smoking as a way of dealing with their emotions. This could affect their ageing process, especially if done on a regular basis as it could cause serious health issues which may lead to a shortened life expectancy, such as kidney damage or cancer of the liver.


Socio-economic status is an individual's combination of education, income and occupation. Socio-economic factors influence an individuals ageing process in many ways. It is known that both children and adults living in wealthier countries have a lower mortality rate than those living in poorer countries. Having a high income slows the ageing process down as the individual has the option to invest money into their health and ensuring they eat a balanced diet everyday. Also, it has been found that individuals who are well educated tend to live longer than those who are not. Research shows that an extra year of education increases someone's life expectancy by six months.

http://www.scoopproject.org.uk/Default.aspx?pageid=294

Socio-economic factors has has been shown to have a huge impact on an individuals health. For example, it has been proven that those of a lower status have an increased risk of developing diseases, life-span and infant mortality.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/5188742.stm

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Changes in demography

Life expectancy differences - Research has shown that women tend to live an average of 5 - 10 years more than men do. One of the reasons behind this is that their immune systems age much slower than men's do. The older men get, the more susceptible they become to diseases due to their immune system becoming weaker, therefore, this leads to a decreased life span. Studies have shown that the estimated life expectancy for women within the UK is 82 and is 79 for men.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22528388

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Changes in later life

Cognitive Changes - An individuals cognitive abilities are their mental skills (memory, awareness, multitasking and information handling) they require to carry out simple tasks to the more complex tasks. The older an individual gets, the more their cognitive abilities deteriorate. However, some individuals will experience more deterioration than others and this could lead to them developing dementia. A deterioration with an individuals cognitive abilities will have a negative impact on them being able to carry out the simple every day tasks, living independently and being able to sustain a good health and well being.

http://www.ccace.ed.ac.uk/about-us/what-we-do/what-is-cognitive-ageing


There are a number of different factors which play a role in the deterioration of an individuals cognitive abilities. Some of these factors consist of an individuals health related problems causing pain, such as arthritis, as this can affect cognitive areas like an individuals concentration. Particular medications which carry the side affect of drowsiness has also been proven to affect cognitive abilities. As well as an individuals sudden mood changes, as this can have an affect on their motivation to learn knew information and apply it to everyday tasks.


Although it is part of the ageing process to experience cognitive changes, there are a few causes of action that can be taken to slow down the deterioration process. Some of these effective strategies consist of - reducing stress levels by eating healthily and exercising regularly, having check ups with your GP often to maintain good health and also keeping mentally stimulated by reading and attending adult education courses/classes.

http://alzheimers.emory.edu/healthy_aging/cognitive-skills-normal-aging.html