Stereotypes about aging can be hard to ignore, as popular culture often portrays seniors in a less-than-flattering light. Consequently, many people are surprised to learn that their sunset years can be so rich, exciting, and fulfilling. So today we’d like to tear down a few of those misconceptions. Let’s unpack some of the most misleading myths about aging.
Myths About Aging
Before we address some of the most common myths about aging, let’s explore why debunking those myths is so important. One study by Yale University Professor of Public Health Becca Levy, Ph.D. found that buying into myths about aging can actually reduce your longevity by as much as eight years! Replacing negative age-related stereotypes with positive perceptions – things like greater wisdom or more free time – resulted in a notable increase in lifespan. A lot can happen in eight years, which is why it’s so important to point out some of the harmful stereotypes surrounding aging.
Myth: You Can’t Teach an Older Dog New Tricks
One of the best aspects of retirement? Increased free time to spend however you like. Why not use that free time to learn a new language, tackle a skill, or enroll in an online course? You’ve probably heard the adage about old dogs and new tricks, but it’s completely false. Older adults can still take on new challenges and learn new things. Contrary to popular belief, many of the cognitive changes associated with aging are positive, including changes like increased knowledge and insight. And learning new skills only adds to those cognitive benefits.
Myth: You’re Certain to Inherit Family Health Problems
Studies do show that your overall health and lifespan may be similar to that of your parents. However, up to 70 percent of how we age comes down to lifestyle choices. Surprisingly, the same goes for genetic illnesses like dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, only about three percent of U.S. adults between 65 and 74 have dementia, and you can dramatically reduce your changes of cognitive decline through lifestyle changes. It may come as a surprise, but eating right, focusing on a healthy sleep schedule, and staying active are all more important to your overall health – both physical and cognitive – than genetics.
Myth: Your Golden Years Are Boring
Are you worried that aging will leave you stuck on the couch, bored and lonely? Think again. Most seniors maintain their mobility and independence, with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reporting that almost one in five licensed drivers are 65 years or older. Aging also presents a unique opportunity to strengthen your social ties, particularly if you opt for the built-in social connections of a senior living community. Ultimately, your golden years can be the perfect time to do whatever it is you’ve always wanted to do: learn how to tango, write a novel, finish your to-read list, find a penpal abroad, make a difference in your community, etc. It all comes down to your outlook.
It’s time to dismantle these harmful myths about aging. The truth is, most seniors enjoy physical and cognitive health throughout their lives – and aging presents a unique opportunity to have more fun and strengthen your social ties. In the end, your lifelong well-being is based on lifestyle choices, a strong community, and a supportive living environment like a vibrant retirement community.
Are you planning to retire in Greenville, South Carolina? Be sure to check out The Gables on Pelham, a continuing care retirement community that welcomes seniors from all walks of life. We offer flexible and personalized care, including assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation. You’ll love our cozy accommodations, fun-filled events calendar, and welcoming community atmosphere. To learn more, please schedule a tour or give us a call at 864-286-6600.