We’ve all heard them. We all know someone who believes them. We may even believe them ourselves. What are we talking about? Myths about aging. People have different thoughts when it comes to aging and growing older. Many stereotypes exist and just because they have been around for a long time, doesn’t make them true. While there are definite changes that happen as we grow older, aging is not an indication that your quality of life will decrease. In fact, for many, aging is when some people enjoy life the most. Keep reading to learn common myths about aging and the truth behind them.
1. Depression and loneliness are normal with age.
As people age, some adults may find themselves feeling isolated and alone which can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and sadness. Some studies show that older adults are less likely to be depressed than younger adults. Although depression can occur in older adults, they are also likely to benefit from healthy personal relationships and having memories to bring them joy. Depression and loneliness are not normal feelings, and the symptoms of depression may be less obvious in older adults. If you have depressive or anxious feelings, contact someone you trust, like a professional, right away to get help.
2. Older adults can’t learn new things.
While aging does certainly bring some cognitive changes, many of these changes are positive and lend themselves to learning new skills. New skills are easily learned in older age, likely from having a lifetime of experience to reference. Studies have shown that older adults who take up new hobbies or learn new skills have improved cognitive function. Being a lifelong learner can improve your mood, keep your brain active, and help develop new social connections.
3. Older adults should avoid exercising to reduce risk of injury.
Inactivity is more harmful than living an active lifestyle. Older people, especially people with a chronic condition or disability may think that beginning or continuing an exercise regimen will cause more damage than good. The truth is physical activity may help you feel better! Moving your body in any capacity has far greater benefits than being sedentary. Movement is not only good for your physical wellness, but your mental wellness too. Physical activity increases your ability to remain independent as you age, helps prevent falls, and improves balance. If you have a newly acquired chronic condition or disability that has changed the way you move, you’re in luck. There are tons of modifications that allow you to live an active life.
4. All older adults will get dementia.
Although the risk of dementia grows as people get older, more than two thirds of adults aged 60 and older do not have any signs of cognitive decline. Dementia occurs when previously healthy neurons in the brain stop communicating with other healthy neurons and die. There is no way to prevent the development of dementia, but research shows that a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing it as you grow older.
5. Older people like being alone.
We were born as social creatures, and the need for meaningful relationships remains throughout our lives. Having social interactions improves cognitive function, challenges us intellectually, and adds to our overall wellbeing. People who self-isolate are at greater risk for dementia, premature death, and depression. Maintaining social relationships may help people live longer, fuller lives and decrease the risk for developing health conditions. If you are experiencing isolation, try getting involved in your community.
While growing older certainly does present a different set of challenges than your younger years, there is still much quality life to be lived. Don’t buy into the myths about aging – instead, create your own path and live life the way you want.