Actual Mechanisms Behind the Changes Associated With Aging Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Physiological Changes Associated With Aging

Aging is the complex and inevitable process of tissue and organ system degeneration. Though largely influenced by genetics, aging is also dependent upon a number of environmental factors including exercise, diet, childhood personality, and exposure to ionizing radiation, pollutants, or microorganisms. The physiological changes that occur as an individual's age advances can be grouped into three, with the first category encompassing changes in such homeostatic mechanisms as extracellular fluid volumes, blood, and temperature; the second encompassing changes related to decreasing organ mass; and the third, changes in the body's functional reserve systems. Promoting the health of an aging population is crucial not only because it ensures the well-being of ageing individuals, but also because it significantly reduces the burden imposed upon a country's medical system. It is with this in mind that this text collates knowledge and research to examine, in a deeper sense, the physiological changes associated with aging.


Bherer, Erickson and Liu-Ambrose (2013); Saber, 2013

Bherer et al. (2013) express that the physiological changes associated with aging are more pronounced among individuals aged above 85, although this basically depends upon one's lifestyle and genetic factors. Saber (2013) posits that these changes may affect an individual's response to illness and functional reserve stressors. Both articles outline a variety of physiological changes associated with aging. These, together with their etiologies, implications, and assessment parameters have, for purposes of simplicity, been put together, organized, and summarized in the tabular representation below.

Associated Changes



Cardiovascular changes

-stiffening and thickening of arterial walls, reduced compliance

-mitral and atrial valve sclerosis brought about by atrial and left ventricular hypertrophy

-cool extremities brought about by decreasing peripheral and increasing arterial pulses

-Low cardiac reserve;

a) No change in cardiac output or heart rate when individual is at rest

b) Diminished cardiac output, giving rise to slow tachycardia recovery, shortness of breath and fatigue when individual is under stress

-Inflamed varicosities, increasing the risk of hypertension, or diuretic-induced hypotension

Pulmonary system

-Stiff chest wall and diminished muscle strength

-reduced cough reflex, macrophage and ciliary activity

-reduced hypercapnia and hypoxia responses

-Low pulmonary reserve;

a) No change at rest

b) Diminished exercise tolerance, and dyspnea, while under stress

-decreased clearance of foreign matter through mucus and cough

-diminishing respiratory excursion, at times as low as 12-24 breaths per minute

Genitourinary and renal systems

GFR (renal function) determination / calculation of the rate at which creatinine clears)

-Diminishing drug clearance, kidney mass, and reduced blood flow

- Decreased muscle tone and bladder elasticity

-Increased nocturnal urine production

-enlargement of the prostrate in males, with a high BPH risk

-Low renal function reserve

-adverse reaction to drugs

-urine incontinence

Gastrointestinal and oropharyngeal systems

The mass index of a relatively healthy body essentially falls between 18.5 and 24.9kg/m2; 25-29.9 represents overweight, and 30 plus represents obesity

-decreased drug metabolism due to diminishing hepatic activity

-Impaired defecation sensation

-Protective mucosa atrophy

-Delayed emptying of the stomach

-chewing impairment, leading to electrolyte imbalance and eventually, poor nutrition

-high risk of acid-induced ulcers and GERD maldigestion due to altered absorption of drugs

-Fecal incontinence

Musculoskeletal system

Reduction in muscle strength and mass

-diminished exercise tolerance

-Fat redistribution, resulting in lean body mass

-Bone fractures

-height reduction, erosion of articular cartilage, and reduced tendon strength

-unstable gait, increasing the risk of disability

-high osteoporosis and osteopenia risks

-osteoarthritis risk

Cognition and nervous system

-reduction in transmitters and neurons

-cerebral dendrites modification

-impaired thermoregulation

- neurodegenerative diseases and sleep disorders

-slow cognitive processing speed

-absent or…

Sources Used in Document:


Bherer, L., Erickson, K.I. & Liu-Ambrose, T. (2013). A Review of the Effects of Physical Activity and Exercise on Cognitive and Brain Functions in Older Adults. Journal of Aging Research, vol. 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2014 from [HIDDEN]

Glassock, R.J. (2009). The GFR Decline with Aging: A Sign of Normal Senescence, Not Disease. Nephrology Times, 2(9), 6-8.

Heckman, G., Gray, L.C. & Hirdes, J. (2013). Addressing Healthcare Needs for Frail Seniors in Canada: the Role of InterRAI Instruments. Canadian Geriatrics Society Journal of CME, 3(3), 8-16.

Saber, A. (2013). Perioperative Care of Elderly Surgical Patients. American Medical Journal, 4(1), 63-77.

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