We live in a culture obsessed with youth and the futile task of keeping it. As we age, most people become what they think we will become and stereotypes play a big role in this process. There are plenty of things we get wrong about aging: that we are doomed to becoming grumpy, sexless incompetents. Science has dispelled a number of these, including the biggest myth of all: that we have no say in how well we age.
Think you know the facts about growing older? Think again. Here are 7 common misconceptions about aging:
Old people are depressed, weak and lonely: While we may get sad and lonely from time to time, research shows that the least lonely and depressed women are over 75. In fact, retirees are more likely to stay socially engaged than ever before, whether they belong to a social clubs, church group, etc. Many are involved with family and caring for their grandchildren, too. In terms of sex, it’s true that as levels of our sex hormones decline, and many of us spend years living with one sexual partner, our libidos decline, too. We want sex less often. But good health and fitness are key to maximizing sex lives at any age
Also, studies show that even women in their 90s can build new muscle, making exercise, especially weight lifting, the closest thing there is to an anti-aging elixir.
It’s too late to learn new things. While it’s true that the pace at which we are able to learn may slow down, the ability to learn new things never diminishes. Everyone knows the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, but in the case of aging adults, this is simply not true. Baby Boomers today participate in a variety of classes and groups to learn new skills and hobbies.
It’s too late to make friends and have a social life. We are social creatures. Baby Boomers today are more likely to stay socially engaged than ever before, whether they belong to a social club, church group, etc.. Many retirees are involved with family and caring for their grandchildren, too. However, social isolation can become an issue for some seniors as they age in the home, mainly because transportation may start to become inconvenient or dangerous for them.
It’s too late to exercise. Healthy aging requires healthy living, and seniors need exercise just as much as younger people. Even the frailest of seniors should take part in some sort of physical activity each day, whether it’s water aerobics, tai chi, yoga or taking a walk around their neighborhood. Physical activity helps keep the muscles limber and bones strong, which will aid in avoiding the risk of falls.
It’s too late for sex. Fact: A survey of 3,005 people ages 57 to 85 found the chance of being sexually active depended as much if not more on their health and their partner’s health than on their age. Women who rated their health as “very good” or “excellent” were 79 percent more likely to be sexually active than women who rated their health as “poor” or “fair.” And while fewer people ages 75 to 85 had sex than those 57 to 74, more than half (54 percent) of those who were sexually active had intercourse two or three times a month.
Dementia is a part of the normal aging process. While it is true that dementia is linked to age, studies show that only about 8% of people over the age of 65 have dementia. Early detection is more important than ever, and new medications and treatments are now available that can help slow the disease.
Older women are less successful in new pursuits. Some of the best and brightest women, though past the half-century mark in years, are still climbing the ladder of success in the world.
While every person is different, the idea that aging means depression, loneliness and decline in overall health is just not true. Healthy aging is more common than ever, and research even shows that life actually gets better in many ways as we grow older.