What Physical and Mental Changes Occur With Aging?
Ageing Data Verified

Physical and Psychological Effects of Aging

Published on Jan 02, 2023 and last reviewed on Aug 18, 2023   -  4 min read


Normal aging is a slow process, starting from some physical decline, such as decreased vision, hearing, and decreased pulmonary and immune functions.


In general, aging is a gradual process of changing a person due to biological and psychological processes. It can also be said to be an accumulation of cellular and collagen damage in the body over time. The changes also occur due to the least interaction with a healthy diet, exercise, lifestyle, and environment. In aging, certain parts of the brain shrink, communication between the neurons become less effective, and blood flow to the brain decreases.

What Kind of Physical and Mental Changes Do We Go Through as We Age?

A. Physical Changes:

  1. Cardiovascular Changes: It is understood that the cardiovascular system will not work as efficiently as before as we age. Blood vessels become thicker and less flexible, which then requires more effort to pump blood throughout the body. It results in the thickening of blood vessels and increases blood pressure. Blood also changes with age, as it becomes thin, contributing to less fluid in the bloodstream and lowering the blood volume.

  2. Musculoskeletal Changes: As we age, the bone loses its calcium and mineral and becomes brittle with decreased bone density. In the spine, the fluid between the disc loses and becomes thinner, which results in loss of height due to the curving of the spine. Generally, joints and muscles lose their flexibility as it loses the synovial fluid present in between.

  3. Digestive Changes: As people age, contraction in the digestive tract slows down, which causes swallowing difficulty in the esophagus, and the intestine absorbs more water into it and also faces the occurrence of constipation. So the digestive system should be managed accordingly to get better digestion.

  4. Kidney and Urinary Changes: The bladder loses its elasticity, weakens pelvic floor muscles and smooth muscles, and decreases urine storage which results in more frequency of urination with aging. The kidney may become less efficient in removing waste from the bloodstream because it gets smaller and loses cells as we age.

  5. Changes in the Skin: As we age, the epidermis or dermis layer of skin loses its elasticity and skin strength with less collagen and more free radicals resulting in loose and translucent skin. The sebaceous gland in the body produces less oil which results in dry and itching skin. Also, the sweat gland produces less sweat contributing to the difficulty in maintaining proper temperature, which can also lead to heat stroke and increases the risk of overheating.

  6. Changes in Hair: The common changes seen in aging are hair loss, baldness, and graying. In aging, the hair follicles which produce melanin pigment become less in production, attributing to graying of hair. Hair follicles also stop growing new hair resulting in hair loss and baldness; along with this, the facial hair becomes coarse and longer.

  7. Changes on the Nails: The nails also undergo some changes, like they become more brittle, yellowish, and opaque. The toenails become thicker and harder while the tip of the fingernails breaks easily, and ridges appear on the nails.

  8. Other Physical Changes: In old age, the calorie-burning process slows down, and extra fat deposits in the lower abdomen. Even if teeth last for a lifetime, some changes may be seen, like yellowish teeth, gums may pull back from the teeth, interdental bone receding and becoming more susceptible to disease.

B. Mental Changes:

As already discussed above, in aging, certain parts of our brain shrink, communication between the neurons become less effective, and blood flow to the brain decreases, resulting in changes in mental function. Generally, it causes difficulty in concentration, multitasking, and difficulty in recalling events.

  1. Promotion of Healthy Aging: Aging brings mental and physical changes in health, but it facilitates some good changes because people can experience healthy aging. The best way is to engage in some physical activity, have a healthy diet, and enjoy a healthy environment by meeting up with healthy and vibrant people.

  2. Exercise: Exercising can promote strength and flexibility, which are reduced due to musculoskeletal, changes while eating healthy can lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease. Another way is brain exercise to make it sharp, and learning new skills can facilitate improving mental health and dealing with loneliness, physical changes, and bereavement.

  3. Cognitive Changes: Minor changes in cognition with aging are considered normal. However, learning abilities, problem-solving activities, and reaction time also reduce with age. Few adults often learn new skills late in life, but it may take more time than young people.

  4. Effects on Memory: The chances of alteration in short-term memory are higher as compared to long-term memory, which rarely decreases with age.

  5. Dementia: Diseases like Alzheimer's are the most types of dementia affecting the older age group, but it is not considered under the normal aging process. Approximately 37 percent of the people in the age group above 90 years old are affected by dementia.

How Do Attitudes to Aging Affect Health Outcomes?

Having positive attitudes towards aging may contribute to healthier mental and physical outcomes in older adults, and it is in our hands to take aging positively or negatively. One major factor which is involved in our good health during aging is happiness. In a good family, loved ones who take care of the senior member of the family are very important to live a healthy life.

How Does Financial Status Affect Aging and Physical Health?

Good financial status and being employed are both connected with more positive attitudes towards aging and better self-reported physical health. A more positive attitude towards aging is associated with a good and disease-free life and a balance between physical and mental health. Good financial status and a job-holding person make them least reliant on other family members, and they can live the least stressful life.


As mentioned above, getting older has both a boon and a bane side. It depends on how we tackle them, the environment where we live, and the quality of family members. If we live a healthy life by taking proper diet, medication, and exercise, getting older will not become a matter of burden. Less developed and poorer-resourced countries frequently have little ability to investigate and address the needs of their older citizens. This matter should be resolved to ensure that old aged people spend the rest of their life healthily and happily.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
18 Aug 2023  -  4 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

Anti-Aging Skin Care

Article Overview: This article describes the process of aging and helps you understand the various causes of premature aging and ways you can avoid it. Read Article

Hari Hara Sudhan
Hari Hara Sudhan

Introduction: 'How old are you?' she asked. 'I'm forty years young,' he replied, a smug smile on his face. That cheesy line is from a novel I read sometime back. Most of us want to stay young. However, that seldom happens. So we strive for the next best alternative - feel and look young. When it com...  Read Article

Effect of Aging on Gastrointestinal Tract and Common GI Illness Among the Elderly Population - Symptoms, and Lifestyle Changes

Article Overview: Age affects all parts of the body. Read the article below to learn more about the effects of age on the gastrointestinal tract in elderly people. Read Article

Jagdish Singh
Jagdish Singh
Medical Gastroenterology

Introduction: The gastrointestinal tract is a series of hollow organs that form a long continuous passage starting from the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus make up the gastrointestinal tract, along with organs that contribute to the digestive system like the liv...  Read Article

Effects of Aging on the Urinary Tract

Article Overview: Aging has a significant impact on the working of the urinary tract. The efficiency of organs decreases with age. Read the article to learn about it in detail. Read Article

Ankush Jairath
Ankush Jairath

What Is a Urinary Tract? The urinary tract or the renal system consists of organs that filter the blood, remove the waste, and expel them from the body in the form of urine. The urinary system is like a network of tubes connected with the digestive system and other organs of the pelvis. The mechanis...  Read Article

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Aging or Age-related Change?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.