With an estimated 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day and seniors living longer, it’s no wonder that more attention is being paid to aging well and shrugging off the stereotypes that surround old age.
Whether 50 is the new 40 or not, there have been a number of advances that are game-changers for a rapidly aging population and many myths and misconceptions about getting older are being debunked. Here’s a few that top our list at The Oldish:
- We naturally become frail and weak with age. Although muscle mass and strength does decline with age, regular exercise and strength training can slow and help prevent loss of function and preserve independence.
- Old people are grumpy, sad or lonely. It’s not a natural part of aging to be depressed but some changes in older age including retirement, the loss of loved-ones or health problems can lead to depression. There are many treatment options for depression and it is not a normal part of aging.
- Older adults lack a sex drive. Even when there’s snow on the roof, there may be a fire in the furnace. Hormonal or physical changes associated with old age don’t have to mean an end to a healthy sex life. Talk with your doctor about treatment options.
- Seniors will eventually lose all their teeth. In most developed countries, with proper dental care, adults can keep their teeth for a lifetime. Good oral health is also important to overall well being.
- We all become forgetful in old age. Significant memory loss is not a natural part of aging. According to Psychology Today, more than half of seniors over 85 have completely normal cognitive function.
- Elderly adults can’t learn new skills. Learning new things is not only possible for older adults, it’s an important tool to staying mentally sharp.
- Limiting activity will reduce the risk for falls. The opposite is true; the best way to prevent falls is to participate in regular physical activities that promote balance and strength. Getting regular eye exams and removing tripping hazards also help prevent falls.
- Seniors need to retire at 65, they can’t keep up with younger co-workers. Nearly 19 per cent of Americans over 65 are working at least part time, the highest rate in 55 years.
- Arthritis and osteoporosis are unavoidable in old age. Staying physically active and eating a healthy diet can help prevent poor posture and sore joints.
- You will always age in a similar way as your parents. Genes don’t control everything about aging. Lifestyle choices including smoking, diet and physical activity play an important role in aging well.
To learn more about aging well in the 21st Century, follow this link to the National Institute on Aging.