The myths about aging are endless. Breaking the worst of them can help temper common fears about growing older.
People fear many things about getting older. For some it is the idea of relying on others for assistance. That loss of independence looms large for many. Others fear they will develop memory loss or find themselves alone.
Many concerns about growing older are based on myths, however. By separating fact from fiction when it comes to aging, you might end up having a brighter outlook on what it’s like to grow older.
Stop Believing These 3 Myths About Aging
Myth #1: Physically, it’s a slippery downhill slide every year.
There’s an image of aging perpetuated by the media. We often see films and photos that show frailty and weakness among older adults as central themes. That may be the case for some, but it doesn’t have to be your experience.
Staying fit and exercising make a difference in your quality of life, no matter what age you are. So can avoiding a sedentary lifestyle. If you are sitting too much and moving too little, you can develop heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. That’s when the aging-frailty stereotype can begin to come true.
The benefits of staying active range from maintaining core strength and physical appearance to building a strong immune system. Before starting any physical regimen, be sure to check with your doctor.
Myth #2: Memory loss is a normal part of aging.
Adults often joke about having “senior moments.” But in truth, there’s a good chance you’ll stay as sharp as ever as you age. In fact, researchers think older adults’ greater life experience may actually allow them to make better decisions than their younger counterparts.
If you find yourself or a senior loved one suffering from memory problems, talk with a doctor. It might be a sign of a reversible health condition, such as a vitamin B12 deficiency or a urinary tract infection. It could also be the side effect of a medication.
Myth #3: Depression and loneliness are inevitable.
Clinical depression is not a normal part of aging. In fact, most cases of depression occur in younger people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 1% to 5% of seniors are depressed. Those numbers are higher, however, for older adults who have a chronic health condition.
While seniors may experience more losses, such as the death of a spouse, or feel sadness associated with leaving a career behind, depression and loneliness aren’t always part of the aging process. Grief is not the same as depression.
Many older adults thrive during retirement, filling their days with everything from volunteer work to travel and hobbies. It can be one of the most meaningful seasons in life.
The bottom line?
Maintaining a positive outlook, along with staying physically fit and engaged with meaningful activity, can help you live the retirement you’ve likely dreamed of for many years.