Aging can be pretty tough on your body. No matter how healthy you are or how much commitment you’ve put into healthy aging, the aging process is going to end up changing your body whether you like it or not. While most studies have shown that a loss of bone density can be responsible for a lot of different issues as we age, a noticeable loss in height is one of the most obvious aspects. If you’re a senior who’s already invested in a home care company in asheville nc, you’re probably taking the best care of yourself possible by consuming enough calcium and staying consistent with doctor’s visits. But don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself prematurely losing height as you grow older. Along with getting wrinkles, losing muscle, and dealing with a more brittle bone structure, it’s simply par for the course. But how does it actually happen? Why do seniors start to lose height as they age? Here are a few factors.
Bone Density Loss
The number one culprit of height loss in aging is a decrease in bone density. This can occur from osteoporosis, a condition that occurs when bones aren’t getting enough calcium, or it can simply happen as a result of poor nutrition during the aging process. As we age, we need more minerals and vitamins to sustain us. When we don’t get enough of these, our entire bodies can suffer, causing us to lose muscle mass and bone density. This might just be the cause of an elderly person losing an inch or two as they advance in age. However, it’s not the only reason we seem to shrink with age. There are multiple factors that contribute to an average loss of around 2 inches in women by the age of 70 and 1.5 inches in men around the same age. While it can never hurt to bulk up on calcium and Vitamin D supplements, keeping your bones strong won’t necessarily stop you from losing some height.
You may not notice how much your young, healthy arches contribute to ease of function when it comes to working out, doing chores, or even just walking around. If you have good-sized arches, you probably don’t experience a lot of aching in your feet to begin with. However, as we get older, our arches start to fall, and everyday activities become a lot harder to sustain with the same rigorousness. This also contributes to height loss, albeit not by much. While fallen arches can cause a “shrinking” effect, it doesn’t have as much as an effect on height and appearance as a loss of bone density or a loss of padding in between vertebrae.
Our bones aren’t the only parts of our bodies that suffer from aging. As we get into our 60s and 70s, we also experience some muscle loss that has an effect on how our bodies perform. A bit of deterioration is natural, and even if you’re extremely fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you’ll have to work a lot harder in general to build muscle at the same rate as before. When we’re younger, it’s fairly easy to build muscle and keep it from converting to fat if we stay consistent with exercise. As we age, our bodies need more of the nutrients that muscles provide, leaving less for our muscles to actually use for growth. That means that staying fit becomes harder, and we’re likely to see less of a result. Along with muscle loss, too, comes a decrease in height. This is more noticeable in women than in men, since because they tend to have more muscle mass.
Our spines, in youth, are protected from bumping into the nerves surrounding them (and each other) by the presence of discs between each separate vertebra. As we age, these discs actually end up dehydrating, leaving us with a significant decrease in height that occurs gradually. While there’s not much we can do about this, we can try to counteract the negative side effects, such as a curved spine, hunched-over appearance, and poor posture, by trying to counteract the effects of our compressed vertebrae. Trying to practice better posture may seem harder to do at an advanced age, but it helps to add height and combat that hunched back issue that comes with a weakened spine. Trying to stay upright and healthy in general is a good way to try and delay the effects of aging. If you go to the gym regularly, doing work with weights can help build muscle and keep the body strong enough to stay upright.