Top 7 Myths of Aging
Tracy E. Hill, Ph.D.
As my sister is fond of saying, “Getting old isn’t for sissies.” That being said, there are many myths out there that could hold you back from living a fabulous life well into your nineties and beyond.
Myth: Older people are lonely.
Truth: The fact is that younger people are actually lonelier than older adults. Several studies in the past two years including those from the Kaiser Family Foundation and YouGov found that individuals 18 – 26 years old report being the loneliest of any age group. Of course, older adults also can feel lonely without family, friends or community. Loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression and addiction. What can you do? Join clubs, socialize with friends, enjoy time with family and most importantly, don’t turn down an offer to go out with anyone who is willing to spend time with you!
Myth: You don’t need to exercise.
Truth: Exercise may not mean doing a full triathlon or even a sprint triathlon, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to exercise. In fact, exercise is one of the top 3 ways to stave off cognitive decline. Why? When you exercise, you force more oxygen to your brain and your brain thrives on this excess O2. Light weightlifting, brisk walks, swimming, dancing – anything that gets your heartbeat up and your body moving is good for you regardless of your age. My mother had a coronary in her 50’s. The cardiologist said had she not been in great shape from skiing, tennis and walking – she wouldn’t have survived the attack let alone her quadruple bypass. She’s now 83 and still walks every day.
Myth: Elderly people are less amenable to change.
Truth: Although many young and old people alike feel that they know best and are reluctant to change; sometimes change can prove lifesaving. Whether it’s changing your diet due to new medical conditions or learning how to use new technology so you can communicate with your children and grandchildren; change is good for you. Considering that adults over the age of 60 have seen more innovation in their lifetime than most likely millennials will, I think Silver Sagers have done a darn good job of adapting to our new world, technology, medicine and social media!
Myth: You will get a terrible disease.
Truth: Sure, as we age, your body may start to decline. Hearing, vision and other functions may become more difficult. Yes, more than 40% of all deaths from cancer are those aged over 50 according to American Cancer Research. However, we are blessed to live each day and as we age, our body is more likely to see more disease. Think about that old Buick you have. The more mileage, the more problems it got. But she still drives where you need her to take you and she’s still a beauty! Terrible diseases are not reserved for the elderly. If you take care of yourself with a healthy diet, exercise and sleep; you should have no reason to believe that you’ll automatically succumb to a fatal or terrible disease just because you’re a Silver Sager.
Myth: As you age, you will get dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Truth: According to Psychology Today, less than 10 percent of people over the age of 65 have been diagnosed with dementia. Moreover, only those who are diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s are considered at risk for familial genetic risk. So if your mom, dad, grandparents have dementia, there is no guarantee that you will as well. What can you do to diminish the risk of cognitive decline? First, keep your brain active with activities that actively engage the brain. Watching tv is a passive activity. Word puzzles, taking a class at your local college, learning to paint, etc. are all engaged activities. Secondly, exercise. Exercise keeps the oxygen flow to your brain which is fuel and nutrition for your brain to function optimally. Lastly, eat healthy. Talk to your doctor about the best diet for your needs.
Myth: Silver Sagers are less adventurous.
Truth: Actually, adults over the age of 50, outspend other generation by $400 billion every year on goods and services. Moreover, travel is one of the top spending categories for Silver Sagers. Adventurous? You betcha! Silver Sage recently traveled to Cuba and our readers are more adventurous than ever as they have the financial resources to do all the things we couldn’t do when we were struggling to raise a family, support a house and put children through college. These are the silver years! Adventure on.
Myth: As we age, we become less productive.
Truth: I don’t know about you, but I’m working harder now than I ever did and I’m in my late 50’s. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 24% of senior citizens volunteer even in their retirement years. Many older adults I meet are working, taking care of grandchildren, working side gigs, staying busy and creative. They are certainly not staying home and twiddling their thumbs.
Photos by Pixabay.