What Are the Attributes of a Normal Aging Process

The reality is that there are many misconceptions about what is and is not part of the normal aging process. While every individual has a unique aging pathway, there are some common elements associated with aging that are considered normal and to be expected. In this article, we discuss some of the attributes that are associated with a normal aging process. Armed with this information, you will have a basis to determine if something you feel you are experiencing is within or without the range of what is typically considered normal for growing older.

In this regard, we take a look at how aging impacts your body in several different areas:

  • Cardiovascular system
  • Bones, joints, muscles
  • Digestive system
  • Bladder and urinary tract
  • Memory and cognitive ability
  • Eyes and ears
  • Teeth
  • Skin
  • Weight
  • Sexuality

Cardiovascular System

Your cardiovascular system undergoes potentially significant changes as you age. The most common of these changes in your cardiovascular system is found in the stiffening of the blood vessels and arteries. This stiffening results in your heart working harder to pump blood through your body. In turn, your heart muscles change to adjust to the increased workload. Your heart rate at rest will stay about the same. However, your heart rate will not increase during activities as much as it used to before the stiffening process commenced. These changes increase the risk of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, and other cardiovascular problems.

What you can do:

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Quit smoking
  • Manage stress
  • Get enough sleep

Bones, Joints, Muscles

As you age, bones tend to shrink in size as well as in density. This process weakens your bones and makes them more susceptible to fracture. You might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength, endurance, and flexibility. These muscle changes can negatively impact your coordination, stability, and balance.

What you can do:

  • Get enough calcium
  • Get enough vitamin D
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine
  • Avoid substance abuse

Digestive System

Your digestive system is not immune from normal age-related changes. These include structural changes in the large intestine. These types of changes can result in more constipation in older adults. Other contributing factors include a lack of exercise, not drinking enough fluids, and a low-fiber diet. Medications, such as diuretics and iron supplements, and certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, also might contribute to constipation.

What you can do:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine
  • Do not ignore the urge to have a bowel movement

Bladder and Urinary Tract

As you age, your bladder may become less elastic. This can result in the need to urinate more frequently. Weakening of the bladder and pelvic floor muscles may make it difficult to empty your bladder completely. It can also cause you to lose bladder control, also known as urinary incontinence. In men, an enlarged or inflamed prostate can also cause difficulty emptying the bladder and incontinence. Other factors that contribute to incontinence include being overweight, nerve damage from diabetes, certain medications, and caffeine or alcohol consumption.

What you can do:

  • Go to the toilet regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Do not smoke
  • Do Kegel exercises
  • Avoid bladder irritants
  • Avoid constipation

Memory and Cognitive Ability

Your brain also undergoes alterations as you age that may have minor effects on your memory or thinking skills. For example, healthy older adults might forget familiar names or words or find it more difficult to multitask. Despite a widespread belief otherwise, dementia is not a part of the normal aging process. It is the exception and not the rule.

What you can do:

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Stay mentally active
  • Stay social
  • Treat cardiovascular disease
  • Do not smoke

Eyes and Ears

As you age, you might have difficulty focusing on objects that are close up. You might become more sensitive to glare. You might also have trouble adapting to different levels of light. Aging also can affect your eye’s lens, causing clouded vision, known as cataracts. Your hearing also might diminish as part of the normal aging process. You might find yourself having difficulty hearing high frequencies. You might also find it more challenging to follow a conversation in a crowded room.

What you can do:

  • Schedule regular checkups
  • Take precautions (earplugs, protective eyewear as needed)


As you age, it is possible that your gums will pull back from your teeth. Certain medications, such as those that treat allergies, asthma, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, also can cause dry mouth. As a result, your teeth and gums might become slightly more vulnerable to decay and infection.

What you can do:

  • Schedule regular checkups
  • Brush and floss twice daily


Three primary things happen to your skin as you age:

  • Your skin becomes less elastic
  • Your skin becomes more fragile
  • Amount of fatty tissue directly below your skin decreases

You are apt to bruise more easily as you age. Decreased production of natural oils might make your skin drier. Wrinkles, age spots, and small growths called skin tags are more common.

What you can do:

  • Use sunscreen
  • Use gentle cleansing products
  • Do not smoke


How your body burns calories changes as you age. Specifically, your metabolism slows down as you grow older. If you decrease activities as you age but continue to eat the same as usual, you will gain weight. To maintain a healthy weight, stay active and eat a healthy diet.

What you can do:

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Pay attention to portion size


As a person ages, sexual needs and performance might change. Illness or medication might affect your ability to enjoy sex. For women, vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable. For men, impotence might become a concern. In this regard, it might take longer to get an erection, or erections might not be as firm as they used to be.

What you can do:

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine
  • Share your concerns and needs with your partner
  • Talk to your doctor (if you feel you are having issues)

In the final analysis, by understanding the normal attributes of aging and how to deal with them, you will be in a position to lay the foundation for a longer and healthier life. You will also have no benchmarks that can inform if there are deviations beyond normal.