7 Common Myths about Aging
Many people have false assumptions about what it means to “grow old.” These misconceptions can foster fear and trepidation about aging, especially when individuals start seeing more gray hairs and wrinkles when looking at the mirror. The good news is many of these beliefs are baseless and shouldn’t deter older adults from enjoying a full, meaningful life.
By learning to ignore the following common myths, older adults can enhance their well-being and quality of life in the present AND well into their future years.
MYTH 1: Dementia is a normal part of aging
Dementia, an abnormal condition that significantly impacts a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities, is NOT a normal part of aging. Signs of dementia should not be confused with minor changes to the mind and memory, such as occasionally misplacing small objects or temporarily forgetting a word. However, if you’re concerned an elderly loved one has experienced significant and chronic changes to their memory, mood, or thinking, make an appointment to speak with their physician.
MYTH 2: Seniors can’t learn and do new things
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Not only is this incorrect for canines, but it’s wrong for people, too. Although our learning process changes with age, older adults can and should take up new hobbies and learn new skills. New and challenging activities can help seniors keep their minds sharp.
MYTH 3: Older adults should avoid exercise
Many older adults may skip exercise because they are concerned about overexerting themselves or becoming injured. However, experts say exercising provides physical and mental benefits for seniors. Regular and appropriate exercise can help avoid frailty, decrease the risk of injury, and improve overall health. Exercise can also help boost thinking skills. Always consult a doctor before jumping into a new exercise program.
MYTH 4: Living with multiple chronic diseases is inevitable
Many people think old age always leads to chronic conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, and there is no such thing as “healthy aging.” This is not true. Although genetics may help some avoid chronic conditions, a healthy lifestyle plan accounts for a large part of overall wellness. Making sure to eat right, exercise, and avoiding smoking and excess alcohol consumption can have a significant impact on healthy aging. It’s also never too late to start making healthy lifestyle choices and realizing the benefits—even in advanced years.
MYTH 5: Intimacy and sex becomes obsolete in old age
Social stigma perpetuates the belief older people are no longer interested in sex or intimacy. Many are unwilling to ask seniors about this touchy subject, and seniors are uncomfortable talking about it. Sex and intimacy, however, are still critical parts of romantic relationships for many seniors. Studies have shown there is a strong relationship between well-being, intimacy, and positive sexual activity.
MYTH 6: Depression and loneliness are normal in older adults
Some older adults may experience senior loneliness and depression, but they can find fulfillment in many social activities, such as continuing to be an active member of their neighborhood or community. Many experts agree that a social life has numerous health benefits for seniors beyond just preventing depression and isolation. If you are worried a senior loved one may be experiencing depression or isolation, consider the benefits of in-home companion care.
MYTH 7: The elderly can’t live independently
Although the elderly may need additional support to continue living independently as they age, it isn’t always as drastic as moving into an assisted-living facility or retirement home. Aging-in-place with professional senior care is possible and has significant benefits for maintaining a high quality of life.
Fear of aging is often misplaced and based on misconceptions. By disregarding these common misconceptions, older adults can focus on living a rewarding life into their golden years. Remember, there can still be a lot of joy and fulfillment in life, even in old age.