Your eyes and ears

What's happening
With age, you might have difficulty focusing on objects that are close up. You might become more sensitive to glare and have trouble adapting to different levels of light. Aging also can affect your eye's lens, causing clouded vision (cataracts).

Your hearing also might dim. You might have difficulty hearing high frequencies or following a conversation in a crowded room.

What you can do
To promote eye and ear health:

  • Schedule regular checkups. Follow your doctor's advice about glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids and other corrective devices.
  • Take precautions. Wear sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat when you're outdoors, and use earplugs when you're around loud machinery or other loud noises.

Your teeth

What's happening
Your gums might pull back (recede) from your teeth. Certain medications, such as those that treat allergies, asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, can also cause dry mouth. As a result, your teeth and gums might become slightly more vulnerable to decay and infection.

What you can do
To promote oral health:

  • Brush and floss. Brush your teeth twice a day and clean between your teeth — using regular dental floss or an interdental cleaner — once a day.
  • Schedule regular checkups. Visit your dentist or dental hygienist for regular dental checkups.

Your skin

What's happening
With age, your skin thins and becomes less elastic and more fragile. You might notice that you bruise more easily. 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
To promote healthy skin:

  • Be gentle. Bathe in warm — not hot — water. Use mild soap and moisturizer.
  • Take precautions. When you're outdoors, use sunscreen and wear protective clothing. Check your skin regularly and report changes to your doctor.
  • Don't smoke. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking contributes to skin damage, such as wrinkling.

Your weight

What's happening
Maintaining a healthy weight is more difficult as you get older. As you get older, your muscle mass decreases and body fat takes its place. Since fat tissue burns fewer calories than does muscle, you need fewer calories to maintain your current weight.

What you can do
To prevent unwanted weight gain:

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine. Regular moderate physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods and lean sources of protein, such as fish. Limit sugar and foods high in saturated fat.
  • Watch your portion sizes. You might not need as many calories as you used to.

Your sexuality

What's happening
With age, sexual needs, patterns 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. It might take longer to get an erection, and erections might not be as firm as they used to be.

What you can do
To promote your sexual health:

  • Share your needs and concerns with your partner. You might experiment with different positions or sexual activities.
  • Talk to your doctor. He or she might offer specific treatment suggestions — such as estrogen cream for vaginal dryness or oral medication for erectile dysfunction.

Remember, it's never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle. You can't stop the aging process, but you might be able to minimize its impact by making healthy choices.

Nov. 08, 2012 See more In-depth