Aging is a natural process that happens to everyone, yet it always seems to be a surprising experience full of new challenges. As we age, our bodies change, and we have to adapt our lifestyle to account for those changes.
There are a lot of misunderstandings and misguided beliefs about aging that can make the experience even more confusing and stressful than it needs to be. By busting some of these myths, you can help yourself, or your aging loved ones better understand and accept the aging process.
Myth #1: “You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”
Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too old to learn something new. It’s never too late to learn a new skill, hobby, or trade. Research has shown that older adults who challenge themselves with new activities can help improve their cognitive function and stave off mental decline.
So go ahead and sign up for that pottery class, start learning a new language, or pick up a new instrument.
Myth #2: “Dementia is Inevitable”
The risk of developing dementia increases with age, but it is not a normal part of aging. You can do things to help reduce your risks, such as staying active and social, eating a healthy diet, and keeping your mind sharp with activities like puzzles and brain games.
If forgetfulness and other cognition changes interfere with your day-to-day life, talk to your doctor. It could be a sign of something more serious, and they can help you get the treatment you need.
Myth #3: “You Have to Give Up Your Independence as You Age”
Self-determination and autonomy are important at any age, and it’s something that you should hold onto as much as possible. As we age, we may need help with some activities of daily living, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up our independence entirely.
If you need assistance, don’t be afraid to ask for it. You can also look into getting adaptive equipment or home modifications to make everyday tasks easier. And there are plenty of transportation options available if you can’t or don’t want to drive anymore.
Myth #4: “You Should Avoid Physical Activity To Prevent Injury”
The risk of injury increases as we age, but that’s no reason to avoid physical activity altogether. Staying active is one of the best things you can do for your overall health as you age.
Moderate exercise can help improve your cardiovascular health, increase your strength and flexibility, and improve your balance to help prevent falls. Just be sure to start slow and listen to your body. If something hurts, stop doing it.
Myth #5: “This Pain is Normal For Someone My Age”
Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to suffer from pain. Many causes of pain are unrelated to aging, so don’t just assume that your aches and pains are something you have to live with and “tough it out.”
If you’re in pain, talk to your doctor. They can help you figure out what’s causing it and provide treatment to help relieve it.
Don’t let misinformation get in the way of living your best life, no matter your age. Stay active, and social, and not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Getting older can be a rewarding experience, full of new opportunities to learn and grow.