Myths about Aging

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Old age did not seem like a very exciting time in life to look forward to while growing up. Maybe we had older relatives who were “stuck in their ways” or Grandparents who have never used a computer. Fortunately, times have changed and today’s seniors are healthier, more tech savvy and maybe even sexier than ever before.

Here are some of the common myths about growing old and the reasons why we shouldn’t believe them:

Myth: You won’t have the energy to exercise well in your 80s.

Fact: Ninety is the new 70. Statistics show that people who take up exercise later in life experience improved heart function by lowering their resting heart rate and increasing their heart mass and the amount of blood pumped with each beat. Older exercisers also experience less shortness of breath and fatigue.

Myth: To be old is to be sick.

Fact: Even in advanced old age, most people are not disabled, and the proportion of older Americans who are disabled is going down, not up. Only a small percentage of older people live in nursing homes; the remainders live in the community at large.

Myth: Sex stops after 65.

Fact: Sexual activity does not have to stop once someone gets older. Researchers at Duke University’s Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development surveyed 254 men and women between the ages of 60 and 94 about their sexual activity. They found that these older individuals were still interested in sex and continued to have active sex lives.

Myth: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Fact: As we age, we may not be able to learn new things as quickly as we did when we were younger. However, learning is a life-long process. Three things that are good for our minds as we age are regular physical activity, a strong social support system, and a belief in our own ability to handle what life has to offer.

Myth: It’s too late or it’s pointless to change bad habits in later life.

Fact: Certainly, it’s better to start healthy habits early, but the truth is, it’s almost never too late to benefit from healthy living. Even damage from decades of too much alcohol or fat-laden food, lack of exercise, or smoking can be reversed or limited. A fresh start can help a person recover lost abilities and decrease the risk of certain illnesses. In some cases, it can even improve a person’s health.

Myth: Mental sharpness declines with age.

Fact: An active mind and clear thoughts go hand in hand. Reading, doing puzzles, and taking classes are excellent ways to challenge our brains. Writing to friends and hobbies like knitting and woodworking are also good for our minds.