Replacing body parts as we age


If you are a Senior Citizen, you remember the old days.

You remember older people who had no teeth, unrepairable knees, blindness due to cataracts, and – worst case – sudden unpredictable cardiac death. Now people are choosing to have joint replacement, cataract surgery, and dental implants.

A trip to the ER because of chest pain often results in stents or a pacemaker and no heart attack has occurred yet. These devices may be lifesaving, and at the least, they improve the quality of our lives. 

Now we often reach an age older than our parents, and especially older than our grandparents. Your hip, knee or shoulder may begin to give you trouble and, through the years, you no longer get benefit from medication or therapy.

Activities that would be fun for you are now too uncomfortable. Over time, you talk to professionals about surgery to replace the joint. Eventually, after you have the surgery and several weeks of therapy have passed, you are free of pain. This surgery was not available to your elderly relatives in the past.  

Consider cataracts, which are extremely common in people after age 60. In the days of our ancestors, we watched our elders have gradual reduced vision. Surgery sometimes was done to remove the cloudy lens, but there was not a product, like our plastic lens, to replace it with. Patients with cataracts began to lose vision in their 60s or 70s and eventually could not read or drive. Now a simple operation is available to replace the cloudy lens with a plastic lens. Blindness is prevented.

There are two basic types of common cardiac problems. One involves obstruction of the vessels and the other involves disturbed rhythms. In both cases, these types of problems could lead to heart attacks or sudden death. Now the heart and circulatory system can be regularly monitored. Stents can be put in place, to prevent heart attacks and pacemakers can be used to ensure a normal rhythm. 

Many of us have some dental problems. Even today, some elderly people have no teeth, because of limited dental care. Even with good dental care, older person may lose teeth and now we are able to have a dental transplant. This is a procedure that takes several steps over several months. It is somewhat expensive, if we do not have dental insurance. But the result is a better quality of life, than living with missing teeth.

It is important to point out that some of the issues discussed in this article are preventable. Each problem has specific risk factors. Joint problems may be due to being overweight, carrying around extra weight for many years. Smoking is a risk factor for cataracts. Smoking, high blood pressure, inactivity, and being overweight are risk factors for cardiac disease. Not having good consistent dental care throughout life, can result in missing teeth in old age. 

Our ancestors dreamed of replacing damaged body parts, so that life could continue without discomfort. Some amazing methods are now available. It is important to use all preventive means to keep yourself healthy. However, you should begin to look into the latest improvements available for those with common problems of aging.


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