Modern society has changed the entire perception of aging, with aging being treated as a death sentence of sorts. We mainly mix aging with old age, but that is quite wrong. Aging is a process that starts very early in a person’s life, when they don’t even realize it. Aging doesn’t mean a person’s state of mind, behavior, attitude, etc. changes drastically but rather, the body simply goes through transition.
No matter how much we say ‘age is just a number’, on the inside we are all scared of aging, even though there is not much to be scared of. Here are a few common misconceptions about aging:
#1 – Memory Disorders are Likely to Occur
As people get older, they do experience mild forgetfulness, which means that they might forget where they kept the car keys or they might forget the date, but that doesn’t mean they have dementia or any other memory disorder. Alzheimer’s is common in older people because of certain environmental and lifestyle factors, such as lack of exercise, improper diet, exposure to pollutants, smoking, etc. There is no direct link between memory disorders and old age.
#2 – Depression is Normal While Aging
As people get older, they may feel isolated and alone, and that might lead to depression, anxiety, and sadness. However, depression has no link with aging, in fact, you will be surprised to hear that youngsters are more likely to face depression than older people. Studies also say that during old age, since people have already made long-lasting relationships with family members and friends they have more to share about their life with people, which makes them more expressive and happier, rather than depressed and sad.
#3 – Less Sleep is Needed
Even though older people wake up earlier and are more likely to sleep earlier too, that doesn’t mean that they need less sleep. Studies have stated that older people require the same 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, which is the same for all adults. Health conditions or insomnia can change your sleep schedule, but that also means that you would be increasing your chances of having mental health disorders, including irritability and depression.
#4 – Avoid Exercise or You’ll Get Injured
People usually have the misconception that if they exercise when they are older, they will get injured. However, studies say quite the opposite, it states that you have a lot more to gain by being active, than by sitting. Physical activities are a great way to combat chronic illnesses, and it is the best way to maintain your physical and mental health. Unless you have serious joint problems or any sort of issue that could damage your joints, then physical exercise can never hurt you. One should start walking if they can’t do proper workouts.
#5 – Can’t Learn New Things
Older people have the ability to learn new things, and they can even develop their performance in certain skills. It might come as a surprise to you but older adults who learned a new skill had improved memory after learning that skill. It means that older people can learn new things, and can benefit from them as well. Engaging in social activities could also have a positive effect on older people’s minds, such as dance classes or book clubs. Activities like these keep the brain active and boost cognitive health.
#6 – Can’t Make Decisions on Their Own
Senior citizens have a lot of experience, since they have spent more time in the world. Their decision-making power is strong, and they also make decisions while considering all aspects. However, in the modern world, things have drastically changed than they were back in their time, so a little bit of help from a family member could help them in making a sound decision. It is highly encouraged that a senior citizen should make their own financial, medical, and other impactful decisions if they are competent enough.
#7 – They Can’t Contribute to the Society
A majority of older people are retired. Generally, 65 is the retirement age for men, and for women, the retirement age is 63.5. If a senior citizen is not working, that doesn’t mean that they are not contributing to society, they find other means of working, like joining voluntary programs, making contributions, etc. Older people tend to make more charity donations than younger people, and they also keep contributing in other meaningful ways.
#8 – Irritability Increases
In media, we are often shown an old person being very grumpy and irritable, however, in real life this scenario is not that common. Many seniors have very positive attitudes because they tend to enjoy life more and avoid negative thinking.
#9 – Seniors Don’t Use the Internet That Much
Even though using electronic gadgets and modern technology is not a piece of cake for everyone, its usage is very common amongst toddlers and youngsters, and older people are also very keen to use new technologies. Pew Research Center states that nearly 70% of adults aged 65 and above use the Internet on a regular basis. While some older adults use technology from time to time, many of them are keen and willing to explore newer forms of technology.
#10 – Aging & Genetics are Interrelated
Healthy aging starts right from birth with our genetic inheritance, however, only 25% of aging is explained by genetic factors. The other 75% entirely depends on the social and physical environments we live in. Therefore, genetics do not play a major part in aging, but our surroundings do.
People above the age of 80 are the fastest growing segment of the US, and there is a lot to learn about this population. While growing older has its own challenges and difficulties, that doesn’t mean you should assume things on your own. Don’t believe everything you hear!