Did you know? The number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to double from 46 million to more than 98 million by 2060. That’s why it’s more important than ever to understand the dynamics of the aging process. While recent scientific advances have allowed us to gather accurate information about aging, there are still many myths and stereotypes about aging and older adults that simply aren’t true.
Today, we’re debunking some of the most common myths about aging.
Myth: Older adults don’t need to exercise or stay active
Some people believe that exercising isn’t safe for older adults. In reality, it’s quite the opposite! Staying physically active is one of the most important things we can do to promote healthy aging. A lack of regular physical activity is linked to stress, anxiety, depression, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cognitive decline, and other health conditions. But combining moderate aerobic activity and strength training exercises is known to prevent these conditions and help to improve heart health, bone health, and balance.
It’s never too late to start exercising, even if you’ve never worked out before. An easy place to start is by adding more walking to your daily routine. Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
Myth: Getting older means getting frail
Contrary to popular belief, frailty is not a natural part of the aging process. There’s no set definition of frailty, but it’s typically diagnosed by symptoms including low physical activity, slow walking speed, low energy, low grip strength, and non-deliberate weight loss. Frailty can also be a risk factor in falls among older adults. Fortunately, frailty can be prevented or delayed with strength training interventions and preventive physical therapy. By taking steps to prevent frailty early and often, you can remain strong, healthy, and mobile as you age.
Myth: Older adults don’t need to be social
It’s not uncommon for older adults to experience a sense of loneliness as they get older, especially if they live far from family or have recently lost a spouse. However, getting older doesn’t mean your social life needs to fade. In fact, as a retiree, you will likely have more time than ever before to devote to new friendships. Moving to a senior living community that offers a variety of engaging social activities helps older adults remain connected to others and ward off loneliness and social isolation.
Myth: Memory decline is inevitable as we age
False! While genetics certainly play a role in our chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, emerging research has found that certain lifestyle behaviors and habits are also associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline. These factors include physical and mental inactivity, smoking, obesity, depression, and social isolation. The good news is, each of these lifestyle behaviors can be modified to lower one’s risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. By staying mentally and physically healthy, you can protect your overall health and preserve cognitive abilities as you age.
Myth: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”
It’s a common misconception that older adults can’t adapt to change or learn new things. While it may take older adults a little longer to master some new skills, it’s possible to continue learning skills even later in life. With confidence and a willingness to try new things, older adults are just as capable of learning and contributing as any other age group. In senior living communities, lifelong learning is encouraged through opportunities such as book clubs, continuing education classes, and cultural experiences. Residents are free to explore and learn about the subjects that interest them alongside like-minded peers.
Don’t be fooled by these common myths about aging and older adults. Remember, getting older is a natural and normal part of life, and we all experience aging differently. Healthy aging is all about finding the hobbies you like to do, staying physically and socially active, and spending time surrounded by people you love. No matter your age, we encourage you to Enjoy Life!