The kidneys filter the blood and help remove waste and extra fluid from the body. The kidneys also play an important role in controlling the body's chemical balance. As with other organs, kidney function may be slightly reduced with aging.
The kidneys are part of the urinary system, which also includes the ureters and the bladder.
Bladder control can be affected by muscle changes and changes in the reproductive system.
As the kidneys age, a number of events occur:
- The number of filtering units (nephrons) decreases. Nephrons filter waste material from the blood.
- The overall amount of kidney tissue also decreases.
- The blood vessels supplying the kidney can become hardened, and the kidneys filter blood more slowly.
Changes in the bladder:
- The bladder wall changes with age.
- The elastic tissue becomes tough, and the bladder becomes less stretchy.
- Muscles weaken, and the bladder may not empty completely when urinating.
Review Date: 12/13/2010
Reviewed By: Michael Langan, M.D. Department of Geriatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.