September is Healthy Aging Month – a month that provides ideas and inspiration for people, ages 50 and over, to improve their physical, mental, social and financial well-being.
When many people think about getting older, they focus on many of the negative aspects or myths of aging, such as hearing loss, memory loss and increased risk of illnesses. But many of these myths are based on what happened as people got older in past generations. Nowadays, by taking control of your health, there’s no reason why you can’t live a long and healthy life – even into your 100s.
Here are some of the common myths about aging:
- You’ll be alone and lonely. As people get older, they do tend to live alone once their spouse dies, but that doesn’t mean they’re lonely. Today more seniors are active. They have jobs, volunteer regularly, garden or take care of grandchildren.
- You’re going to be senile. Sure, everyone gets forgetful as they age. But dementia or Alzheimer’s is not inevitable as you age. By continuing to exercise your body and your brain as you age, you can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. And, even if you’re diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, with early detection of the disease and the use of medications, you can continue to live independently.
- You’re going to become frail. While getting older is a risk factor of osteoporosis, that doesn’t mean you’ll develop it. Osteoporosis is preventable and treatable. All women over the age of 65 should have a bone density test to detect if they have the disorder. Treatment for osteoporosis includes vitamin D and calcium, prescription medications and weight-bearing physical activity.
- You’re become depressed. A study last year found that many people are “at their happiest at retirement age.” And even though the study found that people tend to become unhappier in their 80s and 90s, depression is a highly treatable disorder.
- You’ll lose your hearing. Granted, some hearing loss is common as you age since sensory cells within the ear die as part of the normal aging process. But, only 35% of people in their 80s actually need a hearing aid. And many people in their 90s still hear perfectly.
- You won’t have as much energy for physical activity. It’s never too late to start exercising, even if you’re in your 50s, 60s, 70s or older. Studies show that older men and women who worked out with weights increased their muscle strength and their walking speed. Plus, older individuals who are physically active experience less fatigue and shortness of breath.
- You’re going to come down with a chronic disease as you age. While you do have increased risk of chronic disease as you get older, not everyone has one. Most chronic diseases have more to do with lifestyle choices than age. By eating healthy, exercising regularly, not smoking, limiting your alcohol consumption and having regular check-ups with your doctor, you can maintain your health as you age.
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