Busting Myths Around Aging.

9 May 2021

Curtain Hug

In today’s culture, growing old is attached to stereotypes like getting sick, forgetfulness, and feebleness. But these stereotypes are wrong and misleading. Growing old doesn’t automatically mean that one will have to deal with dementia, depression, loneliness, or other illnesses.

Myth 1: Being old means Weak and Frail.
Not true! Staying active by walking, stretching, or exercising in any manner is the key to staying fit, even during old age. Exercising helps to build muscle mass, stay flexible, increase bone density, prevent anxiety and depression. Aside from keeping one fit and healthy, exercise also helps to maintain a sense of independence.

Myth 2: Senility is inevitable.
Moments of senility, a slowdown in reaction time, and problem-solving abilities are not unusual due to old age. But research has proved that less than 5% of adults in the age of 65-74 have dementia. A healthy diet, staying fit, and mentally challenging oneself can help prevent mental health decline due to aging. Depression, anxiety, and sadness is another thing that occurs in older adults when they might start to feel alone and isolated. One should remember these feelings are rare in seniors as they have lifelong relations with friends and family. Hence, they are less likely to experience depression than their young generation.

Myth 3: Learning capability decreases in Old age.
According to Havard Medical School, our learning capacity remains the same; only the methods of learning patterns and speed may diminish. Some changes occur, but these cognitive changes are positive, like more insight and knowledge due to more life experiences. Moreover, the brain nerve cells branching increases, the connection between brain areas strengthens, making it easier to understand relationships between information sources and the global implications of issues. Henceforth, learning new skills is beneficial as it improves cognitive thinking.

Myth 4: Sleep cycle changes as we get old.
Our natural sleep habits and tendencies remain the same as we grow older. Older adults require the same amount of sleep as the younger generation- 7 to 9 hours.
Adequate sleep helps in improving their mental and physical health. If a person was an early riser before, then the practice will continue. The same applies to late risers.

Myth 5: Genes Determine Health.
Our lifestyle choices determine our health and lifespan, not our parents when growing old. Around 70% of our health while aging depends on a healthy diet, exercise, getting enough sleep, not smoking, limited alcohol consumption. These play a more important role than genetics.

Myth 6: Only females need to worry about osteoporosis.
This disease is common in females, but that doesn’t mean men also don’t get diagnosed with it. It’s less likely in men as they have higher bone density, but after the age of 60, men and women start losing bone density at the same rate. Risk factors for this disease are the same for males and females - too much alcohol consumption, drugs, smoking, not keeping fit through a balanced diet and exercise.

Myth 7: Older adults like being alone.
Human beings are social creatures, and this doesn’t change when we grow older. Having meaningful relationships gives seniors an intellectual challenge, maintaining their information-processing skills and giving them an outlet for sharing feelings.

Myth 8: Withdrawing from the world is a part of aging.
The above rumor is untrue, as 67% of adults over the age of 65 use the internet. Also, around 100,000 people above the age of 50 participate in programs to increase cultural knowledge.