The Aging Neurological System – Neurology Example

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"The Aging Neurological System" is a perfect example of a paper on neurology. The impact of aging on the nervous system is shown in the neurological test. Changes in postural balance, memory, and cognitive efficiency are the most usual normal diagnoses in old people. Generally, such changes are not apparent to patients or their families, and they cannot remember when exactly these changes started or manifested. On the other hand, disorders of the neurological system have a tendency to cause serious changes in neurological processes and often have an unexpected or abrupt onset with a faster and more obvious weakening in neurological performance (Snyder & Christmas, 2003).

Furthermore, specific disease conditions that are widespread in the older population raise the possibility for secondary conditions that can aggravate the weakening of the nervous system. For instance, an old person with Parkinson’ s disease may get injured (Snyder & Christmas, 2003). This essay descriptively discusses the impact of aging on the neurological system. The Neurological System of Older Adults                       The nervous system is an intricate network with peripheral— external to the spinal cord and the brain— and central (spinal cord and brain) units (Shippee-Rice, Fetzer, & Long, 2012).

Adverse changes in any of these units are automatically an emergency condition. The neurological test evaluates the performance of the central and peripheral units. A brief test that emphasizes each component of the nervous system can limit the main location of dysfunction, which zeroes in the possible causes. This allows the specialist to concentrate on the critical risks when deciding about appropriate, direct treatment (White, Duncan, & Baumle, 2012). Normal changes caused by aging are characterized as permanent and progressive in neurological diagnoses that occur with progressing age in almost all people without the apparent illness.

These changes occur in mental function, cranial nerve function, motor function, sensation and reflexes, and posture and gait. Researchers have reported age-related deterioration in mental performance, specifically longer recovery of long-term and short-term memory, and weaker sensory processing. These conditions usually affect mental status performance. Usual findings may comprise requests to ask a question again, or slow responses. These common changes can be misidentified as symptoms of certain illnesses like Alzheimer’ s disease or other types of depression, dementia, and associated illnesses (White et al. , 2012).

The major characteristics of normal age-associated mental illnesses are that they are somewhat isolated, or not related to several anomalous neurological diagnoses that indicate particular illness conditions and that the beginning and any development of such findings are ‘ in harmony’ with the person’ s aging course; specifically, the diagnoses are not threatening or abrupt, and do not relate to other defects (Snyder & Christmas, 2003).                         On the other hand, the cranial nerves drive sensory and motor mechanism to different areas of the neck and head such as the face, tongue, eyes, and muscles used for head movement and facial expression.

The most widespread changes related to weakening cranial nerve performance involve deterioration in hearing, sight, and reduced variety of both cervical movement and facial expression (Snyder & Christmas, 2003). Reaction to light and pupil size decline continuously with age.   Age-associated conditions are minor, slow in the beginning, and advance steadily with age. It is crucial to differentiate these from more inflated changes related to illness conditions. These aspects particularly— reduced cervical motion, facial expression, eye movements (alongside other changes in neurological tests like limb stiffness and shaking)— could indicate Parkinson’ s disease or other related diseases (White et al. , 2012).   Adjustments in motor function occur in the peripheral and central nervous systems.

  As such changes take place, the person cannot move as rapidly or withstand it as well, and hence movement coordination deteriorates. Minor coordination difficulties are also caused by weakened nervous system performance like balance and vision (White et al. , 2012). The weakening of the nervous system that brings about a reduction in muscle mass and perhaps resilience can also distress motor function.

Age-related effects on motor function are commonly minor, regular, and steady in their progress. Abrupt or serious symptoms more probably suggest a particular disorder like Parkinson's conditions, stroke, or serious inner ear diseases. Meanwhile, the impact of aging on sensation and reflexes include loss or weakening of ankle jerk reflex and reduced sensitivity (Snyder & Christmas, 2003). Alongside deteriorating vision, these make the elderly prone to injury from falls, because sensitivity to position and vibration are primary providers of balance.

Furthermore, visual perception weakens, and inner ear alterations bring about loss of hearing (Snyder & Christmas, 2003). Lastly, the age-related effect on the spinal canal normally causes a hunched or bent stance. Changing characteristics of an individual’ s walking mechanism, or, gait, are reduced arm swing, broader base, reduced step, and generally, slower and stiff walking. The reduced position and vibration sensitivity in the lower legs forces the elderly to make more careful, smaller steps and creates more postural swing (Snyder & Christmas, 2003). In summary, the following changes in neurological functioning occur due to aging (White et al. , 2012, 1330): Neurons in the brain decrease in number, resulting in decreased productions of neurotransmitters and, thus, reduced synaptic transmission. Cerebral blood flow and oxygen utilization decrease. The time required to carry out the motor and sensory tasks requiring speed, coordination, balance, and fine-motor hand movements increases.

The incidence of slight tremors is common. Short-term memory may somewhat diminish without much change in long-term memory. Night sleep disturbances occur because of more frequent and longer wakeful periods. Deep-tendon reflexes decrease, although reflexes at the knees remain fairly intact. It is vital for nurses to evaluate the duration of onset of cognitive changes in the patient.

Normally, dementia defines deteriorations that have a gradual onset of more than six months, while severe confusion or delirium defines cognitive alterations that have a briefer onset of fewer than six months (White et al. , 2012). Delirium can happen separately or as an intensification of an existing dementia-associated illness in the patient. Delirium can be caused by numerous stresses like injuries, dehydration, metabolic problems, medication side-effects, or infections. Removal of the contributing factor can usually transform delirium into a pre-exacerbation functioning level, except if the worsening of the brain condition has taken place (White et al. , 2012).

Basically, widespread neurological system diseases associated with aging involve transient ischemic attack, depression, and Alzheimer’ s disease (Shippee-Rice et al. , 2012).             Age-associated changes in neurotransmitters and neuron systems boost the sensitivity of older adults to anesthesia. Neurological disorders slow motor responses and nerve conduction of sensory stimuli. The effect on neurological functioning, particularly in cognitive performance, leads to a range of changes from minor to acute dysfunction.

Autonomic dysfunction leads to weakened stress response (Snyder & Christmas, 2003). Lack of sleep, poorly diagnosed and treated, further hampers the capacity of older adults to deal with the pressures of surgical treatment and postoperative recovery. Age-associated effects on the neurological system retard rates of response which, when in combination with the effects of anesthesia, raise safety risks (Shippee-Rice et al. , 2012). Retarded response abilities oblige care providers to be tolerant with an understanding of older adults who require a greater amount of time in processing, communicating, and responding to treatments intended to enhance perioperative outcomes.     Conclusions It is obvious that as individuals age, all body mechanisms go through changes.

The changes are brought about by numerous aspects such as stress, genetics, disease, environmental pressure, and numerous others. The majority of these changes take place over a long time and are regarded naturally among the elderly. Nevertheless, these changes frequently make the elderly more prone to disease states. It is very crucial to discern normal from abnormal changes so as to avoid inappropriately or wrongly addressing natural changes and being unable to remedy those that arise from disease.                       Raising awareness about the natural changes of aging must be the primary intervention performed with the aging population to guide them in understanding the changes in their bodies.

Furthermore, numerous interventions are readily obtainable to cope with such changes and to inhibit the development of illness as an outcome of these treatments. Raising awareness and assurance by nurses that such changes are a natural outcome of aging enable the elderly to recognize and appreciate their bodies, to gain enthusiasm in knowing how to cope with such changes, and to find out how to inhibit the development of illness.  


Shippee-Rice, R., Fetzer, S., & Long, J. (2012). Perioperative Nursing Care: Principles and Practices of Surgical Care for the Older Adult. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Snyder, D. & Christmas, C. (2003). Geriatric Education for Emergency Medical Services. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

White, L., Duncan, G., & Baumle, W. (2012). Medical-Surgical Nursing: An Integrated Approach. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

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