Learn about the Types of Aging

Aging doesn't happen the same way for everyone. In general, it varies depending on the state of health, habits, and environment of an individual.
Learn about the Types of Aging

Last update: 04 October, 2021

Not everyone has the same type of aging, and people are now living longer globally. For the first time in history, the majority of the population has a life expectancy of 60 years or more.

The WHO has estimated that between 2015 and 2050, the percentage of the planet’s inhabitants over the age of 60 will almost double from 12% to 22%. In Spain, for example, life expectancy is 80.5 years for men and 85.9 years for women, the latter being the highest life expectancy figure in Europe.

Thus, all countries face major challenges in ensuring that health and social systems are prepared to cope with this demographic change. To do this, we need to know what types of aging exist and which is the most suitable.

In this article, we’ll explain this in full detail.

Types of aging: What do we understand by aging?

Aging is defined as the chronological passage of time over the human organism. In addition, in biology, it’s an accumulation of multiple cellular and molecular damage over time, which leads to a decline in both physical and mental capacities and, in turn, increases the risk of disease and death.

In addition, increasing life expectancy offers new opportunities. During these additional years of life,  people can undertake new activities such as continuing one’s studies, starting a new profession, or taking up old hobbies.

However, developing these opportunities depends to a large extent on the most important factor: health. As a rule, if older people can live in good health, they’ll be able to do similar things as a young person.

On the other hand, if many disabling diseases appear, their quality of life will be conditioned. This is where the different types of aging appear.

An older person sitting on a couch
The aging process is accompanied by various changes that affect health.

What influences aging?

Changes in aging don’t follow the same line for everyone. On the contrary, aging occurs very differently in each of us and is influenced by a multitude of factors that condition us. First of all, the key elements of aging are the following:

  • Genetic factors
  • The passage of time and the natural process of wear and tear
  • Biological factors such as the deterioration of the body’s systems
  • Lifestyle, environment, and social situations

It’s surprising, but scientists have found that health decreases not so much because of the use we make of the body, but because of disuse. An example of this is retirement. In addition, the body is highly modifiable and can be improved or maintained by physical and mental exercise.

Characteristics that change with age

Unfortunately, over time, particularities change, even when we’re talking about ourselves. The characteristics of old age include those discussed below:

  • Heterogeneity: There’s a lot of variability in the aging of people. Some sedentary individuals do no physical activity and live for many years. Others, on the other hand, spend their lives in jobs that require mental agility and, once they retire, develop the disease that leads to more rapid aging.
  • Vulnerability: High risk of disease and frailty.
  • Comorbidity: There are often multiple diseases that appear one on top of the other (domino effect).
  • Iatrogenic factors: People who take many medications or take the medication in the wrong way. Therefore, these drugs can produce significant side effects. These are very common problems that can go unnoticed and cause greater vulnerability.
  • Precariousness: They may present frequent social deficits. Many end up living in isolation, which increases fragility.
  • Reduced adaptability to change (social, environmental, and biological): The older they get, the smaller their comfort zone.
  • Dependence on other people.
  • Negative stereotypes created by society feed negative attitudes towards older people.

Knowing all the factors and characteristics that influence us and that increase with age, there are different ways of aging, depending on the type of life, genetics, and the environment that surrounds us.

An older man thinking
During old age, there are changes in physical and mental health. These are influenced by habits, environment, and genetics.

What types of aging are there?

Due to all of the above, aging can occur in different ways:

  • Senescence: normal aging that makes us lose functions little by little, in a natural way
  • Successful aging (successful E.): senescence that lasts until the age of 90-100 years (centenarians)
  • Healthy E. (WHO): aging without dependency, free of disabilities
  • Active E. (WHO): aging with maximum preservation of functional capacities and in full physical, mental and social activity.

Good habits for healthy aging

The best way to age would be to do it healthily by combining active aging.

By 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed that people over the age of 65 should be able to enjoy their full health potential and play an active role in society.

To achieve this, health promotion should be taken into account, focused on encouraging habits such as, for example:

  • Balanced nutrition
  • Daily physical and mental activity
  • Interaction of the elderly in society
  • A healthy environment
  • A social and welfare policy
  • Assistance and support

In conclusion, on a general level, life expectancy is related to a person’s habits and environment. Therefore, to live a healthy and peaceful old age, specialists recommend you follow the aforementioned advice.

In addition, it’s advisable to visit the doctor regularly to detect possible health problems promptly.

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