Is life after 50 the beginning of our decline? Many people would like us to believe so. But the narrative that there’s some magical number after which our mental and physical abilities fall of a cliff is pure myth.
Unfortunately many of the negative stereotypes associated with aging are pervasive in movies, TV, and popular culture. But if you just look around, you’ll notice some of the highest performing individuals are well into their senior years. Folks like Warren Buffet, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Paul McCartney, Noam Chomsky, Robert DeNiro, are all going strong well into their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
The misconceptions about aging and older adults is pervasive, we’re here to separate fact from fiction. Here are 9 common myths about aging:
1. Old People Stop Learning
Common thought is that as we age, we stop learning. The truth couldn’t be further from the myth.
New research has shown that while our processing speed may slow as we age, other mental functions like language, vocabulary and speech actually improve as we get older! Moreover, while some brain functions may decline, it doesn’t just disappear and we can do a lot to improve the brain’s performance as we age.
Several studies have revealed exceptional mental feats of older adults. One case study showed someone in his 70’s memorizing all 10,565 lines in Milton’s Paradise lost. Another showed a woman who learned how to read in her 90’s.
If you want to keep your brain young as you age, exercise seems to be essential as it helps promote the elasticity of the brain through the growth of new brain cells and synapse connections. You can also join the growing trend of seniors going back to school and taking classes of interest.
2. Everyone Who Gets Old, Gets Dementia
There’s been a lot of talk about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in recent years. And while it’s true that one person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds, the good news is it’s not even close to inevitable.
In fact, only 6-8% of adults over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s. So the vast majority of older adults do not get Alzheimer’s or even symptoms of dementia.
Moreover, we now know that there are several things you yourself can do to delay and reduce, and even avoid the symptoms of dementia. For example exercising, staying mentally fit and eating properly.
So the next time you forget your keys or misplace your wallet, relax. Odds are you were distracted and it has nothing to do with dementia.
3. Age Brings Weakness
Older folks are often seen as frail, weak and fragile. While it’s certainly true that our body mass can get smaller and our bones weaker as we age, it has more to do with inactivity than aging itself.
Marcas Bamman, the director of the University of Alabama’s Center for Exercise Medicine, has said that their research has repeatedly shown that women in their 60’s and 70’s develop muscles that are as large and strong as people in their 40’s, under a supervised weight training program.
While sedentary adults can lose up to 30% of their muscle fibre as they age into their 80’s, the balance of your muscle fibre can more than make up for the loss if you grow them through exercise. Again, aging itself is not the largest factor contributing to elderly frailty, it’s lack of exercise.
The lesson? Keep active throughout your life to maintain your strength. Walking is great, but so are more vigorous activities like swimming, yoga, tai chi, dancing, weight training, etc… Bottom line: Use it or lose it.
4. Older Adults Can’t Adapt to New Technologies
Yes some older people may have asked you for help with BookFace, SnapTime or InstaChat. They may have also asked us to help them download their pictures from the Google, talk to that girl Alexa or find the “blue” tooth in their car.
Read more: https://www.lifehack.org/837306/aging-process