In society today, stereotypes of old age are rarely positive. Whether it’s helplessness, forgetfulness or loneliness, myths about aging can have a negative impact on the wellbeing of elderly people – and are oftentimes untrue. While it’s normal to slow down slightly as we get older, aging shouldn’t have to mean giving up the activities you enjoy or spending the majority of your time alone. In our guide below, we’ve outlined 5 common myths about aging – and why you shouldn’t necessarily believe them.
Myths and realities of aging
1. You can’t learn new things
While no longer being able to learn new things is among the most commons myths about old age, it is also one of the most untrue. Older people still have the ability to try different hobbies, create new memories and improve their performance in a variety of skills. While aging does often come with new ways of thinking, many of these changes are positive, such as a wealth of knowledge and insight gained from a lifetime of experiences. In fact, trying and learning new skills may even improve cognitive abilities. Whether it’s pursuing your passion for photography, joining a book club or attending a line dancing class, seeking out connection with others and engaging in social activities can help keep your brain healthy and active.
2. You can’t exercise as you did before
Simply put, of course you can! What’s more, keeping physically active as you get older becomes important for maintaining mobility, improving stability and managing symptoms of chronic conditions. Research has shown that endurance activities, often referred to as aerobic activities, can increase breathing and heart rate to keep you healthy, improve your fitness and help you to perform everyday tasks. They can also delay or prevent diseases that are common in older adults, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Physical activities that build endurance include brisk walking, jogging, swimming and dancing.
3. You will be lonely
It may seem difficult to dismiss loneliness as a myth about old age given the shocking statistics relating to isolation among the elderly in the UK, but ending up alone isn’t something that has to happen. Whether you reach out to your local charity about their planned coffee mornings, join a social club or speak to friends and family about getting support at home, loneliness doesn’t have to be your only experience of later life.
4. You will develop dementia
Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not a normal part of aging. Although the risk of dementia grows as people get older, it is not inevitable. In fact, many people live into their 90s without significant declines in thinking and behaviour that are characteristic of dementia. Occasionally misplacing household items or forgetting a family occasion are typical signs of mild forgetfulness, which is very common in normal aging. However, if you begin to notice serious changes in your memory, thinking, behaviour or personality, it’s important to chat to your doctor to determine the best next steps for you.
5. You can no longer make important decisions
As we age, it’s understandable for big decisions about our lives to become daunting – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be involved in making them. Whether a choice needs to be made about an elderly person’s health, finances or care, they should remain at the centre of the decision-making process for as long as they are competent. Even if your loved one feels they can no longer make important decisions independently, you should ensure that the right support is in place for them to express their preferences and opinions.
Retain your independence with IP Homecare
Have you read our myths about elderly people, and feel like you could do with some additional support to stay independent? Whether you need assistance with exercise or simply some companionship, we can help. To find out more about the live-in care services we offer, contact us today. Our friendly care team are here to listen to your circumstances and arrange a free care assessment if necessary.