Who hasn’t heard those ridiculous impressions of what it means to grow old? Even in today’s more informed world, myths about aging remain prevalent. Unfortunately, they can lead people – including seniors themselves – to believe that we lose our vitality, personality, and usefulness in our advanced years.
But the reality is that “seniorhood” should be something to look forward to, rather than fear. When you stay active and engaged, it could become your most wonderful life stage yet!
With that in mind, welcome to the Cardinal Bay Aging Myths Series. Across four articles, we’ll delve into to:
- Common misconceptions about growing older – and why confusing them can be dangerous
- Many of the typical physical, mental/emotional, and lifestyle myths
- The truths behind those age-related myths
- Easy things that seniors can do to preserve their total wellness
- Steps caregivers and loved ones can take to help seniors age well
We’ll begin now by introducing this popular topic, the risks of misunderstanding aging myths, and how you can conquer the clichés about older adults. Be sure to catch the whole series for the most thorough understanding possible.
Touching on Those Troubling Aging Stereotypes
The stats demonstrate that the world is aging at a historical rate. According to the 2020 Census, the United States population aged 65 and over increased almost five times faster than the total population over the previous 100 years. The older population hit 55.8 million – or 16.7% of the population. That means about 1 in 6 people fit this category, whereas less than 1 in 20 did in 1920.
This quick demographic shift has spurred researchers, healthcare providers, and policymakers to learn more about aging and find ways to improve the quality of our later years. Yet – despite these scientific advances – the myths persist.
Misconceptions about getting older span every angle, from the physical body to the mental and emotional state, to lifestyle expectations. Most of them suggest that seniors are limited in their abilities. For example, they say that elderly adults are sick and frail, that they face cognitive decline, loneliness, depression, and dementia, that they don’t like change, or interacting with other people or the outside world, and that they lose their independence and gratification.
But here’s the truth of the matter: While many older adults do start to experience some changes, not all of them are inevitable or serious. And seniors can learn to deal with them and continue to enjoy long, fulfilling – and happy – lives.
Why You Should Defy Negative Stereotypes of Aging
Hanging on to low expectations of older people adversely affects how our society thinks about and behaves toward seniors – and also how seniors think about and behave themselves. Because of this disrespect and a lack of self-esteem, elderly adults might lose confidence, a sense of being valued, and their motivation to “live their best lives.”
On the flip side, specialized research indicates that seniors who view aging optimistically experience greater longevity, as well as the ability to recover from illness and injury. One study even found that “older persons with positive age stereotypes were 44% more likely to fully recover from severe disability than those with negative age stereotypes.”
So, gaining a better understanding, paired with adopting a mind-over-matter attitude, can help make aging well a delightful reality!
Easy Things Seniors Can Do to Age Well
Experts like those at the American Psychological Association’s Office on Aging advise that older adults can increase their chances of aging well by following their simple recommendations. They include:
- A moderate amount of exercise each day, to aid in staying strong, more active, fit and independent, and in a positive mood.
- Maintaining a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle, adjusting for any physical changes in function (e.g., strength, flexibility, hearing, or vision).
- Engaging in routine preventative health behaviors (e.g., vaccinations for flu, pneumonia, and COVID-19).
- Advocating for yourself in healthcare settings – bringing a knowledgeable representative with you, asking questions, and getting a second opinion, when necessary.
- Seeking assistance when you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed, or are using alcohol or drugs to manage your mood. Leaving mental health problems untreated can result in poor physical health, such as increased disability and illness, and decreased quality of life.
- Staying socially engaged, having regular positive interactions with friends and family, and being involved in different social networks.
- Being an interested person who’s aware of new developments in the arts, sciences, politics, and other areas of cultural and social interest.
- Being an interesting person who engages in things that matter to them and that they care passionately about.
Whether you’re a senior or the loved one or caregiver of a senior, combating inaccurate stereotypes with good and meaningful opportunities daily will ultimately ensure this next chapter is an exceptional one.
Watch our blog for this continuing Aging Myths Series, during which you’ll explore common misconceptions about aging in finer detail – and discover plenty more about the continued importance of beneficial habits for older adults.
Truly Thrive with Purposeful Senior Living
Achieve your potential for leading a healthier, richer, and more fulfilling life throughout your golden years. Cardinal Bay provides first-class independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities in Texas and Oklahoma. Explore our highly social, relationship-centered senior living options in your area, where our residents experience frequent interactions and a wealth of stimulating activities – and greet each morning with greater vitality and enthusiasm. Schedule a complimentary visit to understand how we strengthen seniors’ physical, spiritual, intellectual, social, and emotional wellness.
And keep reading Cardinal Bay’s free, valuable resources, which are dedicated to the seniors and their caregivers eager to learn more.
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