There are many theories on aging and its causes. Some of the more prominent ones are:
The DNA in our bodies contains a genetic blueprint, which we inherit from our parents and ancestors. This is a unique code, which determines a number of factors affecting the process of aging. This that attributes toward the damaging of our DNA during our lifetime, such as exposure to pollutants, toxins, radiation, our diet, and many other environmental and lifestyle factors, can affect the ability of our body to repair damage. This genetic damage can cause the production of abnormal proteins and sugar-protein complexes, which leads to defective cell repair, loss of cell elasticity, and other symptoms of the aging process.
The pituitary gland and hypothalamus (a structure in the brain) regulate the release of key hormones to influence cell metabolism, protein synthesis, immune function, and the biochemical functioning of all bodily cells. The theory is that the hypothalamus over time loses its ability to regulate all these functions. The secretion of hormones gradually decreases over time, and this deterioration in the regulatory and hormone production process leads to aging.
Free Radical or Oxidation Theory:
This theory asserts that the unrepaired cumulative cell damage caused by free radicals, generated by normal metabolism, and contributed to by outside sources, is the cause for aging.
During normal metabolism, sugars such as glucose or fructose and reactive compounds known as aldehydes and ketones may attach to free amino groups on proteins. This process is called glycation and the protein is then saddled with sugar molecules. This protein can then cross-link with other proteins to cause a bond between the two. They then may go on to react with free radicals to cause tissue damage through oxidation as they inhibit certain cellular processes. They can be mutagenic (cancer causing), and they can stimulate cells to produce even more damaging free radicals.
The immune system gradually gets less effective as we age. For instance, the thymus gland, which is responsible for the production of thymic lymphoid, or T cells, can decrease its function by up to 80% as we reach middle age. As we get older, the immune system is less able to produce the antibodies that the body needs to fight off infections and other assaults from the outside. There is also an increased tendency to produce antibodies against the body itself – the autoimmune response, which is responsible for a host of auto-immune diseases.
Whatever theory of aging ultimately proves to be correct, and ther are likely a number of factors which in combination will eventually be found to have a profound effect, it is unquestionably true that a significant number of problems faced by people over the age of sixty may also be attributable to nutritional deficiencies. Many elderly people have mal-absorption problems, in which the nutrients in food are not properly absorbed and their bodies do not assimilate nutrients as well as they once did.
Australia’s aged care industry provides home care, home support, retirement living and residential aged care, providing a choice of the level of care and well being for its elderly citizens.
The Australian aged care industry is constantly evolving to support aged carers and their patients, including:
- In home care such as housework, shopping, cooking or social outings
- Personal care such as dressing, eating, bathing or going to the toilet
- Health care such as nursing, physiotherapy or medical assistance
- Equipment such as walking frames
- Home Modifications such as handrails and ramps
- Residential care in a nursing home
- Short-term (respite) care or after-hospital care
The aged care industry employs over 360,000 people, who care for more than 300,000 older Australians, ensuring the best possible, high-quality care available in the developed world.