When you picture an elderly person, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a classic “little old lady,” hunkered down in a rocking chair, knitting a sweater? Or, maybe you think of a “grumpy old man,” yelling at kids to stay off his lawn.
These are just a couple of stereotypes of aging adults. However, today’s seniors are healthier, livelier and living exciting and vibrant lives past the age of 65. While every senior is different, the idea that aging means depression, loneliness and decline in overall health is just not true. Healthy aging is actually more common than ever, and research even shows that life actually gets better in many ways as we grow older.
The Top 5 Myths About Aging
Here are just a few of the myths surrounding the aging process:
1) All seniors get dementia. While it is true that dementia is linked to age, studies show that only about 8% of people over the age of 65 have dementia. Early detection is more important than ever, and new medications and treatments are now available that can help slow the disease.
2) All seniors are lonely. Social isolation can become an issue for some seniors as they age in the home, mainly because transportation may start to become inconvenient or dangerous for them. However, many seniors are quite engaged socially, belonging to book clubs, golf clubs, bowling teams, and church groups. Many seniors are actively involved with family and caring for their grandchildren, too.
3) Growing old means living in poverty. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that of Americans aged 65 or older, only around 9% fall under the poverty line. Actually, older adults tend to be better about saving money and not spending it frivolously- except, of course, when it might come to their grandchildren!
4) The elderly should not risk exercising. Healthy aging requires healthy living, and seniors need exercise just as much as younger people. Physical activity helps keep the muscles limber and bones strong, which will aid in avoiding the risk of falls. Even the frailest of seniors should take part in some sort of physical activity each day, whether it’s water aerobics, tai chi, yoga or taking a walk around their neighborhood.
5) Seniors can’t learn new things. There’s that saying: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. In the case of aging adults, this is simply not true. Many seniors participate in classes to learn new hobbies and technology. The ability to continuing learning never diminishes, although the speed at which we learn may slow down.
The stereotypes many people have in mind when it comes to seniors are just that- stereotypes. There is no reason to think that as you age you will be lonely and immobile, and that you will have to rely on others for everything because you are too stuck in your ways to learn new things. Healthy aging is entirely possible, and you will find that your golden years may be some of the best years of your life.