People often make negative assumptions about “growing old.” Research, though, shows many positive benefits of aging! By adopting healthy habits and preserving your mobility, you can enjoy a full life for many years to come. Every September, we celebrate Healthy Aging Month, a time dedicated to promoting healthy aging practices and helping older generations thrive.
In today’s blog post, I want to dispel six myths about aging.
1. Loneliness is part of getting older.
With age, you may find yourself feeling lonely and isolated, which can lead to depression, anxiety, and sadness. These feelings, though, are not a normal part of aging. Studies show that older adults are actually less likely to experience depression than young adults. Growing older has many emotional benefits, like longer relationships and years of special memories with loved ones.
2. Older adults need less sleep.
As you age, you may struggle to fall and stay asleep, leading many people to believe that older individuals need less sleep — which is simply not true! Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, regardless of age. In fact, getting enough sleep helps to keep you healthy and alert, reducing your risk of falls and improving your mental wellbeing.
3. Dementia is inevitable.
In truth, dementia is not a normal part of aging. The risk of dementia increases with age, but many people reach their 90s without notable declines in behavior and thinking. Of course, mild forgetfulness — like misplacing your car keys or forgetting about an appointment — is very common with aging.
If you’re concerned with memory issues or personality changes, talk to your primary care physician. These problems may be treatable or even reversible, so it’s important to identify the cause in order to determine the next step.
4. Only women need to worry about osteoporosis.
While osteoporosis is more common in women, it still impacts many men. Men start with more bone density than women, but one in five men over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture. By age 65 to 70, women and men lose bone mass at the same rate.
Risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- family history
- not enough exercise
- low levels of calcium and/or vitamin D
- too much alcohol
- low levels of testosterone
5. Older adults should give up exercise to prevent injuries.
You may worry that exercise will do more harm than good as you get older — but the opposite is true! Inactivity is often to blame when older people begin to lose skill sets. Exercise is great for both your physical health and your mental health and may help you maintain your independence as you get older.
6. Older adults can’t learn new things.
No matter your age, you can learn new skills or adopt new hobbies. In fact, your years of knowledge and insights may make it easier to tackle something new. Better yet, seeking out new connections in social activities (like a book club or knitting class!) helps to keep your brain sharp and boosts your cognitive health.