I thought it very interesting when writing an article about dogs, that I learned that when the hypothalamus in our brains is finally completely developed (somewhere about or slightly before we turn 25), it already begins to lose some of its functionality. Until it is fully developed, the person cannot make completely rational decisions, but afterward, it seems as though rationality could be tossed completely out the window, too.
Besides giving us an edge in reality, the hypothalamus also produces hormones which control other structures in the human endocrine system. The NIH (National Institute of Health) has stipulated that the amount of regulating hormones actually stays quite stable but the response by our endocrine organs may be the changing factor with age.
Besides the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland is also located in the brain. The NIH revealed that the pituitary gland reaches its maximum size in middle age and then gradually becomes smaller. It has two parts:
- The back (posterior) portion stores hormones produced in the hypothalamus.
- The front (anterior) portion produces hormones that affect the thyroid gland (TSH), adrenal cortex, ovaries, testes, and breasts.
As you can see, these changes can be significant. The changes in the pituitary gland may not only bear physical changes, but with some of these changes, there may be accompanying mental changes (ie: changes to the ovaries, testes and breasts). These changes can represent themselves in attitudes unbecoming of adult human beings or cause elders to seclude themselves from the general population (depending on the vanity of the individual in question).
No matter how the changes occur, caregivers simply need to realize that these changes are significant and can be emotionally challenging. Once again, the belief that With Age Comes Respect comes into play and it is very important in helping clients overcome aging challenges.