Aging and Death TABLE OF CONTENTS Lessons 1. AgingGo 2. Death and GriefGo 3. Mortuary ScienceGo
Lesson 1– Aging • The study of aging is called gerontology. • As people age, their bodies begin a process of decline in every major system. • There are several theories in regards to the cause of aging. • Decline of cell reproduction • Nutrition, injury, disease, and the environment • Aging viruses • Free radicals
Lesson 1– Skeletal System • As early as age 40, the bone mass and density begin to diminish. • People can lose some height as the cartilage disks between the vertebrae shrink. • The shortening of the spinal column causes a shift in weight, which alters posture. • Range of motion and flexibility decrease as joints lose water and start to fuse and ligaments and tendons harden.
Lesson 1– Muscular System • Atrophy is the wasting away of tissue. • Regular exercise can do much to counteract the affects of aging on the muscular system.
Lesson 1– Cardiovascular System • Fibrous tissue begins to replace the muscle tissue of the heart. As a result: • The heart becomes less adept at contracting and expanding. • The valves become thicker, making it more difficult to fully close. • In general the heart becomes far less efficient at pumping blood. Therefore, the output of the heart decreases.
Lesson 1– Nervous System • The cerebral cortex portion of the brain slowly decreases in size, which causes impaired thinking, reasoning, and remembering. • Neurons die at an increased rate and those that remain are degenerating, which results in: • Slower nerve conduction • Slower reaction times • Decreases in motor and sensory abilities
Lesson 1– Integumentary System • Glands produce less lubrication to the skin’s surface, leaving the skin dry and fragile. • Skin loses elasticity due to the shrinking of elastin fibers. • The loss of subcutaneous fat produces sagging, wrinkles, and lines. • The skin becomes more sensitive to UV rays from the sun.
Lesson 1– Reproductive System • Sexual dysfunction could appear in the form of function, pleasure, and desire. • Females: • Menopause • Decrease of estrogen and progesterone • Androgen continues to be produced • Males: • Decrease of testosterone • Decrease of sperm count • Difficulty maintaining an erection
Lesson 1– Urinary System • The kidneys shrink. • A decrease in blood flow to the kidneys diminishes its ability to cleanse the blood stream of waste. • People may experience a loss of muscle control in the bladder and sphincters. • Problems with glucose control could lead to hyperglycemia.
Lesson 1– Digestive System • Peristalsis decreases, which can cause: • Constipation • Diverticulosis • Difficulty swallowing and digesting food • Ability to taste decreases with age. • Less saliva is produced, and gum disease and loss of teeth can occur.
Lesson 1– Endocrine System • Both men and women experience a decline in adrenal gland production. • Women also experience a reduction of estrogen and progesterone. • For men, the prostate gland becomes larger while the production of testosterone from the testes diminishes.
Lesson 1– Immune System • The immune system becomes weaker, which leaves the elderly vulnerable to infectious diseases. • Because of their weakened immune systems, the elderly are encouraged to get flu vaccinations prior to flu season.
Lesson 1– Respiratory System • The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide decreases. • As a result: • Irregular activity quickly leaves the elderly breathless. • The elderly are at much greater risk of respiratory disease.
Lesson 2– The Terminally Ill Patient • The final stage of growth is death. • For some people, life ends abruptly and unexpectedly. But for others, they are diagnosed with a terminal illness. • A terminal illness is an incurable disease that results in death.
Lesson 2– Stages of Grief • Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has established five stages of grieving. • Many terminally ill patients and their family members experience these stages of grief as they cope with a terminal illness. • People may not experience all the stages, they may experience them out of order, or they may cycle through them or some of them several times.
Lesson 2– Denial • Denial is often the immediate reaction to being told of a terminal illness. • A person in denial will reject the idea that they are dying, or insist that the doctor has made a mistake. • Health care workers who deal with terminally ill patients who are in denial should allow the patient to speak and provide comfort without confirming or denying the situation.
Lesson 2– Anger • Anger often follows denial, specifically when the patient is no longer able to deny the truth. • Patients can become hostile and direct it towards anyone with whom they come in contact. • Health care workers must provide support and understanding during this time.
Lesson 2– Bargaining • Once patients accept death, they often desire more time to live. • The will to live is strong and they set goals for themselves that they want to meet. • To achieve these goals, many patients turn to religion and make bargains or promises in hopes of having more time to live. • Health care workers should be sensitive and attentive to patients in this stage.
Lesson 2– Depression • Depression can occur when a patient realizes that death is imminent. • Depression can take the form of quiet withdrawal, spoken regrets, or great sadness. • Health care workers should be particularly sensitive during this time and allow patients to express their grief.
Lesson 2– Acceptance • The final stage of grief is acceptance. During this stage, patients accept the fact that they are going to die. • They may spend the rest of their days settling unfinished business and helping family and friends cope. • Health care workers should be sure to continue to provide emotional support and gentle touches of reassurance.
Lesson 3– Mortuary Science • After people die, their bodies must be cared for in a specific, scientific manner. • Mortuary science is the scientific care of the body and the emotional and ceremonial needs of the remaining family members.
Lesson 3– Funeral Directors • Funeral directors run funeral homes. • Funeral directors perform many jobs, such as: • Mortician and undertaker • Funeral planner • Director of activities at a funeral home