Seventy may be the new fifty, but the old myths about aging are still being told and retold. If you do not believe them, your children may. Here, to set the record straight, are the truths behind some common misconceptions about aging:
Myth 1: Older people cannot learn new things.
According to AARP, learning new things can improve your brain health. Taking an academic course, trying a new hobby or sport, and seeking new social connections are just a few of many activities that keep memory alert and thoughts lively.
Myth 2: Your brain does not create new neurons after birth.
Most neurons are created in your brain before birth, but studies show that new neurons can be created in the area of the brain that handles learning and memory.
Myth 3: Dementia is inevitable if you live long enough.
Dementia can be caused by a stroke or other age-related conditions, but simply living your life will not lead automatically to dementia. If you forget someone's name or where you put your keys, these are not signs of dementia. These are simply the forgetfulness that all humans experience.
Myth 4: I can always get a hearing aid.
It is common to adapt to gradual hearing loss and put off getting hearing aids for as long as possible. However, research shows that living with poor hearing for long enough can lead to a permanent hearing loss that cannot be helped with hearing aids. If you cannot hear certain sounds, your brain does not have anything to process. A lack of stimulation in this area of the brain causes an inability to understand these sounds even with the help of a hearing aid.
Myth 5: Falling is normal as you get older.
Falling more frequently is not a normal result of aging. Strength and balance exercises, managing your medications, having your vision checked, and keeping your living environment safe will help prevent falls.
Myth 6: Aging makes it difficult to adapt to new situations.
Older people are experts at adapting; they have had to adapt to numerous changes and transitions in life, many of which may have been quite challenging. They are society's adaptation pros.
Myth 7: Aging makes you less creative.
Many creative people achieve mastery in their later years or find a creative side they did not explore when younger. Grandma Moses continued creating masterpieces until she was 101. The Telegraph celebrates authors who got their start late in life. Colonel Sanders founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken company at 65, and he went on to become a multimillionaire. At 64, Alexander Fleming received the Nobel Prize for his discovery of first antibiotic, penicillin.
Myth 8: Aging leads to loneliness.
Social isolation can be a problem for some seniors but most keep active with family, old friends, and new friends.
Myth 9: Growing older is depressing.
Many studies show that seniors are among the happiest people. Happiness levels tend to sink at age 40 and then rise. People who were unhappy earlier in life may continue to be happy through every birthday, while people who were unhappy for most of their lives continue to be so. Happiness has a lot more to do with personality and attitude than it does with age.
Myth 10: Older people are the same and they are falling apart.
People age at different rates depending on genetics, environmental factors, and choices made. Studies from the U.S., Sweden, and other countries show continual improvement in the health of seniors. In a health status study, people enrolled at age 65 and were evaluated at five-year intervals. The results show that a 75-year-old in 1990 was the biological equivalent of a 65-year-old in 1960.
As poet Robert Browning said, "Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, 'A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!"