Common Aging Myths Debunked

Is a misperception about aging making you fearful of growing older? We bust some of the common myths about aging here.

A senior couple enjoing a sunset from a sailboat.

The myths associated with aging are too numerous to count, from the belief that your health will decline as soon as you turn 65 to the idea that seniors can’t learn new skills or hobbies. It’s no wonder people fear getting older.

In reality, record numbers of older adults are enjoying long and fruitful lives. Some are starting new businesses, while others are pursuing lifelong dreams and passions. Here’s a look at some of the most common myths about aging, and why they just aren’t in line with today’s seniors.

The Truth about Growing Older

Myth: Most seniors have some type of health problem.

Fact: Over the last few decades, researchers have proven just how much lifestyle affects aging. While genetics do play a role, how you live your life generally has a greater impact on how well you age. A healthy, balanced diet in conjunction with regular exercise and strength training are vital. Not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke are also critical. Other aging essentials include finding healthy ways to manage stress and limiting alcohol consumption.

Myth: Your brain shrinks with age, so seniors can’t learn new things.

Fact: This persistent myth can actually be harmful to an older adult’s self-esteem. While it is true that your risk for dementia increases with age, it’s certainly not a given that you will develop cognitive difficulties. What’s important to know is that we learn differently when we are older. You might need a little more time to process new information than you did in your younger years, but you can still pursue activities you’ve always wanted to try. In fact, learning new things gives your brain the aerobic exercise it needs to stay healthy.

Myth: It’s all downhill after the age of 65.

Fact: Another myth that causes people to fear aging is that the body takes a sharp decline after you turn 65. A 2009 study from Pew Research looked at how people thought they would feel when they hit certain milestones in life versus how they felt once they reached those milestones. Researchers found that 60% of people 65 or older actually felt 10 to 20 years younger. They were upbeat about life and grateful for their blessings.

Myth: Retirement largely consists of golf, cards, and television.

Fact: While some seniors enjoy gathering with friends for a spirited game of cards or a round of golf, retirement serves as a second act in life for many older adults. They finally have time to follow their dreams, whether it is learning to play the guitar or taking a cross-country road trip. Some are even starting their own businesses. In fact, a study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation found that since 1996, Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 have started more new businesses than those aged 20 to 34.

Myth: People become unhappier and grumpier as they age.

Fact: This is another falsehood. Because worry and stress often decrease with age, seniors may find their retirement years to be more joyful. Research from Stony Brook University showed that happiness increases at age 50 and continues to improve even up until age 75.

Live Well at The Wesley Community

To see how vibrant life can be as you grow older, we invite you to tour the independent living apartments at The Wesley Community. We offer a lifestyle—from volunteer work to outings to popular local destinations—that promotes aging with grace. Call (518) 587-3600 to schedule a time today!