Normal Age-Related Changes and Health Promotion Activities
Intrinsic aging (from within the person) refers to those changes caused by the normal aging process that are genetically pro-grammed and essentially universal within a species. Universality is the major criterion used to distinguish normal from abnormal aging. Extrinsic aging results from influences outside the person. Illness and disease, air pollution, and sunlight are examples of ex-trinsic factors that may hasten the aging process and that can be eliminated or reduced through effective health care interventions.
Cellular and extracellular changes of old age cause a change in physical appearance and a decline in function. Measurable changes in shape and body makeup occur. The body‚Äôs ability to maintain homeostasis becomes increasingly diminished with cellular aging, and organ systems cannot function at full efficiency because of cellular and tissue deficits. Cells become less able to replace them-selves, and they accumulate a pigment known as lipofuscin. A degradation of elastin and collagen causes connective tissue to become stiffer and less elastic.
The well-being of an aged person depends on physical, men-tal, social, and environmental factors. A total assessment includes an evaluation of all major body systems, social and mental status, and the ability of the person to function independently despite a chronic illness. Table 12-2 summarizes the signs and symptoms of age-related changes in the functioning of body systems and suggested nursing interventions.