PART ONE: Forget the Misconceptions About Getting Old
Throughout the years, we all hear lots of common misconceptions about getting older, many of them negative. Although scientific advances and actual reality prove otherwise, these damaging views don’t seem to catch up. The result can be that even when seniors ourselves, we still buy into these falsehoods and allow them to hold us back from fulfilling our true potential.
Instead of dreading it, we should regard this chapter as a remarkable opportunity to live vibrantly, express our personality, and feel valued. In this Stoney Brook Aging Myths Series, you’ll explore:
R Stereotypes about aging – and why these misunderstandings can be risky
R Numerous physical, mental/emotional, and lifestyle myths
R The facts behind those age-related cliches
R Simple things that seniors can do to maintain their complete wellness
R Ideas for caregivers and loved ones to assist seniors with aging well
Read the entire four-part series, so you’re equipped with every essential to better support any individual into their advanced years. Below, we’ll start by introducing the subject, covering the harmfulness of aging myths and showing how to overcome these wrong impressions about growing old.
Let’s talk about outdated aging cliches.
In recent years, countries around the globe have been witnessing a swift, historical shift in demographics. Statistics from the 2020 Census revealed that the United States population aged 65 and over expanded nearly five times faster than the total population over the previous 100 years. With the older population reaching 55.8 million – or 16.7% of the population – around 1 in 6 people now fit this category. That’s compared to the 1920 figure of less than 1 in 20.
To accommodate this changing, maturing population, experts such as researchers, healthcare providers, and policymakers have amped up efforts to understand aging better and enhance seniors’ quality of life.
Nevertheless, those misconceptions about getting older endure, and it’s very frustrating. Among other stereotypes, they imply that older adults:
- Are destined to struggle with serious restrictions, due to physical, mental/emotional, and lifestyle limitations.
- Are always sick and frail.
- Will suffer from cognitive decline, loneliness, depression, and dementia.
- Dislike and avoid change and interacting with other people and the outside world.
- Will inevitably lose their independence and sense of satisfaction.
Fortunately, these falsehoods don’t represent reality. Of course, seniors might begin noticing a few changes. But not every change is severe or guaranteed to happen, and seniors are quite capable of adjusting appropriately, so they can keep delighting in their rewarding lives and loved ones.
Buying into negative age stereotypes can be dangerous.
Research we follow reports that older adults who take an optimistic approach to aging enjoy a better ability to recuperate from illness and injury, not to mention extended longevity. In one fascinating study, researchers demonstrated that seniors who believed positive age stereotypes experienced 44% more likelihood to fully recover from severe disability than seniors who believed negative age stereotypes.
As a society, by accepting low expectations of the elderly as truth, we would carry on a cycle of seeing and treating them in a disrespectful light. Perhaps more devastatingly, it can also cause seniors to face a loss of confidence and self-worth, to feel they aren’t appreciated, and to be discouraged from joining in those activities and connections that make them happy.
Aid in an exceptional aging journey: Embrace and inspire an upbeat outlook that overcomes these harmful myths about getting older.
What can older adults do to maintain their complete wellness?
There are lots of simple things that seniors can do to improve their probability of aging well. According to experts including the American Psychological Association’s Office on Aging, they should focus on the following:
- Consuming a nutritious diet and incorporating a healthy lifestyle, adapting properly to any physical changes in function (for example, strength, flexibility, hearing, and vision).
- Exercising each day, even a moderate amount, helps maintain their strength and sufficient levels of activity, fitness, and independence, as well as an optimistic mood.
- Following prescribed guidelines for routine preventative health behaviors (for example, flu, pneumonia, and COVID-19 vaccinations).
- Advocating for themselves in every healthcare setting – when necessary, accompanied by a knowledgeable representative and ensuring they ask questions and get a second opinion.
- Asking for assistance when they feel stressed, anxious, or depressed, or are using alcohol or drugs to manage their mood. Note that allowing mental health problems to go untreated can lead to poor physical health (for example, increased chances of illness and disability) and decreased quality of life overall.
- Remaining socially connected, interacting on a regular, positive basis with friends and family, and maintaining their involvement in various social networks.
- Continuing to be an interested person who stays aware of new developments in the arts, sciences, politics, and other areas of cultural and social interest.
- Continuing to be an interesting person who takes part in events, hobbies, and pursuits important to them.
Conquer those hurtful, misguided beliefs! If you’re the loved one or caregiver of an older adult, or if you’re a senior yourself, prioritize an extraordinary aging reality, complete with passion and purpose.
In the coming weeks, we’ll present more installments of our Aging Myths Series, to take a closer look at common misconceptions about aging and keep discussing just how critical it is for older adults to preserve healthy habits.
Flourish fabulously with meaningful senior living.
Fulfill the promise of healthy and momentous days ahead, devoted to those pastimes that make you happiest. An expert in assisted living and memory care, Stoney Brook designed its Central Texas senior living communities to enrich residents’ physical, spiritual, intellectual, social, and emotional wellness. Schedule a complimentary visit to experience our relationship-centered approach first-hand, and see how residents interact often and enjoy ample, fun, and stimulating activities.
Plus, continue to explore Stoney Brook’s free, insightful resources, all intended to aid seniors and their caregivers in the pursuit of aging well. To learn more, schedule a complimentary