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A century-old question: Is age really just a number?

Published on 16 July 2018|
2 min read

Malaysia’s current Prime Minister turned 93 recently and it seems that age could really be just a number.
By Louise M, Carrybeans

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently celebrated his 93rd birthday and is officially in the Guinness World Records as the Oldest Prime Minister.

Stressing the importance of keeping an active lifestyle even after retirement age, this is probably why and how he is today. Despite looking his age, he is definitely not letting age get the better of him.

So is age really just a number? Not quite. Let’s find out how our body changes as we age.

How does ageing affect us?

Skin, hair, and nails

Credit: skinexpertstalk, pazienti

The first signs of ageing start to become visible on the surface of the skin. Fine lines appear first, and over time wrinkles, a loss of volume and a loss of elasticity become noticeable. As you age, your skin becomes more dry and frail, which can lead to more wrinkles. Hair and nails grow slower and become brittle. Hair will thin and turn grey.

Bones, muscles and joints

From about age 30, our bones shrink in size and density. It accelerates in women after menopause. Bones become more fragile and are more likely to break. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much or makes too little bone, or both. Bones become weak and may easily break. Muscles, tendons, and joints may lose strength and flexibility.


Blood vessels start losing their elasticity and fatty deposits build up against artery walls. The heart has to work harder to pump and circulate the blood through our body. This can eventually lead to high blood pressure (hypertension) and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Digestive system

Swallowing and digestive reflexes slow down as we age. Swallowing may become harder as the oesophagus contracts less forcefully. The flow of secretions that help digest food in the stomach, liver, pancreas and small intestine may also be reduced.

Kidneys and urinary tract

Our kidneys get smaller as they lose cells and may become less efficient in removing waste from the bloodstream. Changes in hormone levels in women and having an enlarged prostate in men are contributing factors that lead to urinary incontinence.

Brain and nervous system

Credit: UHNToronto

Reflexes may slow down, distraction is more likely, and coordination is affected. Memory loss occurs because the number of brain cells decreases. However, the brain can compensate for this loss by increasing the number of connections between cells to preserve brain function.


Decreasing levels of physical activity and a slowing metabolism may contribute to weight gain. Your body may not be able to burn off as many calories as it once could, and those extra calories will end up being stored as fat.


Credit: videoblocks, optometrist

There are many vision changes that occur as we age. We may need help seeing objects that are closer, experience difficulty time seeing in low-light conditions, and colours may be perceived differently. Our eyes may be less capable of producing tears and our lenses may become cloudier. Common eye problems associated with age include cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.


Excessive noise throughout our lifetime can cause hearing loss. Many older adults have problems hearing higher pitched voices and sounds, trouble hearing in busy places and more frequently accumulating earwax.

We can’t escape from growing old. People say that age is just a number and that we should always be young at heart. And if a 93-year-old can still rule a country, imagine what you could do at your age!

Follow the advice of this nonagenarian on how to keep going strong even at an old age!

Featured Image Credit: luzdoc

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