It’s no wonder so many people dread growing older. With so many ideas in society today about what it means to age, it’s understandable when seniors look to the future with a sense of foreboding. If the headlines are true, everyone must face loneliness, poor health, memory loss, and dependence on loved ones in their golden years. Fortunately, these ideas simply are not true. Many seniors now enjoy lives full vitality and independence. Advances in medical science have led to improved health for a great number of people. Here are ten common myths about aging and the truths that refute them.
1- Painful Joints are Inevitable
Painful, creaky joints are actually the result of not exercising enough and not an unavoidable aspect of aging. One study followed women between the ages of 40 to 67. Researchers found that the women that exercised regularly for at least 20 minutes maintained more cartilage in their knee joints. This study suggests that exercise may reduce the likelihood of developing one of the most common complaints of aging: arthritis.
2- Everyone Develops Osteoporosis
The truth is only approximately 9 percent of older adults in America have Osteoporosis. While still far too common, osteoporosis is also preventable. Once again, exercise may be one of the most important answers to combating this disease. Bone mass can be increased by performing strength training activities and increasing your intake of calcium and vitamin D.
3- Seniors Lose Their Libido
The fact is that most healthy seniors don’t even see a decline in libido until they reach the age of 75. Even after this age, many seniors find physical and sexual experiences to be an important part of their lives. In fact, one study indicated that most seniors would prefer more of these experiences in their everyday lives not less.
4- Your Brain Shrinks as You Age
This myth actually began when a study was released in 2002 showing that the part of the brain that is responsible for memory is much smaller in seniors. While the myth lives on, further research has found that stress is the culprit, not age. Brain scans have shown similar brain shrinkage in even much younger adults.
5- Loneliness and Depression Are a Normal Part of Aging
Actually, 71 percent of adults over the age of 100 say they are happy. This is actually an improvement over happiness levels reported by younger adults. While loneliness and isolation can definitely impact how seniors feel, there is much that can be done to combat these problems. Volunteering, staying active, trying new things, and staying connected to family all lead to greater feelings of happiness and fulfillment for seniors.
6- Everyone Loses Their Memory as They Age
The truth is that as many as 80 percent of seniors are healthy and competent enough to maintain their normal, daily activities. In some cases, however, physical conditions are misinterpreted so that older people are assumed to understand and reason less competently than they are actually able.
7- Seniors Can’t Learn New Ideas or Skills
The old saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” is absolutely false. Seniors may not learn quite as quickly as they used to, but they are absolutely able to learn and grow as they continue to age. Many seniors pick up new hobbies and learn new skills quite successfully adding enriching new opportunities to their lives.
8- All Seniors Wear Dentures
With improvements in dental care, more and more seniors are able to keep their teeth. Even if problems do arise, new dental procedures are now available to help seniors keep their natural teeth while improving their smiles. Dental implants and other procedures listed on this website have helped many older adults retain their confidence and avoid the many hassles of wearing dentures.
9- Most Elderly Live In Nursing Homes
In actuality, only between 5 to 7 percent of older Americans live in nursing homes. Many seniors live quite happily and successfully on their own. For those that do need some help, however, there have never been as many resources available to seniors who need assistance while maintaining their independence.
10- Once you are Over 60, it’s too late To Change
No matter your age, even small changes made to improve your health can be beneficial. Getting regular exercise and eating healthy can help both the young and old alike feel better and enjoy improved vitality. Some of the big changes, like stopping smoking, may be even more helpful. One study concluded that even older smokers who quit can enjoy a longer and healthier life.
Don’t let common myths about aging fool you. Many people find that they enjoy greater levels of personal satisfaction in their lives during their senior years than ever before. The key is to look to the future with optimism and enthusiasm and create your own unique and personal experiences free from fear and misconceptions about aging.