When we think about old age as a younger adult, we typically associate it with going grey, slowing down and losing the ability to do things. However, as we age, we find out that this isn’t necessarily the case. As we get older, we realise that while our bodies and minds may be changing, we are still very capable, and many of us have no desire to slow down completely. Older adults are more capable than ever before, with many continuing to keep up their standard of living well into their 70s and beyond.
However, there are still misconceptions and preconceived ideas about ageing, and society still tells us that getting old is a bad thing. We don’t often see older people portrayed positively in the media, anti-ageing products make millions of dollars a year, and the older generation are often excluded from public conversation. There are so many misconceptions about ageing that should be corrected. The following are some of the most common myths and misconceptions that we’ve come across.
Common Myths About Ageing
1. You Get More Stuck In Your Ways As You Age
Older people typically have higher levels of mental resilience. However, this doesn’t mean that they are ‘stuck in their ways.’ Older people have to adapt to all kinds of changes, such as retirement, the death of a spouse, a reduction in income, downsizing their home and serious illness. In fact, in these circumstances, having mental resilience is definitely not a bad thing.
2. Mental and Physical Deterioration are Inevitable
As we age, we do experience changes in how we function both mentally and physically. However, there are things that we can do to slow down the process. For example:
- Weightlifting helps to maintain muscle mass and bone integrity
- Good diet and aerobic exercise reduce the chance of physical and mental deterioration
- Brain training can help to reduce the effects of cognitive decline
The key thing to remember is that eating bad food and being sedentary is detrimental for our mental and physical wellbeing at any age, but can be particularly harmful for older adults. With this in mind, we can take the right steps to stay healthy as we age.
3. Older People Can’t Make Informed Decisions About Important Issues
It is very rare that a person’s mental ability declines so much that they are unable to make smart decisions for themselves. Younger relatives should not automatically assume they know better. With age comes wisdom, and cognitive skills are learned over a lifetime through experience and education. Shared decision-making about medical matters, finances and other life choices should involve the older person for as long as they are competent.
4. Older People Don’t Crave Social Interaction
For some seniors, getting older means that they are less interested in going out and interacting with people. However, this is not the case for many. People are social creatures and feel much better when they are socially connected. For most people, the need for meaningful relationships does not decrease as they age. However, as we age, physical and mental barriers may arise that can make socialising more difficult. Despite these barriers, it is important for older adults to maintain social relationships, as staying social has numerous mental and emotional benefits for older adults.
5. Older people Contribute Less to Society
In Australia, there’s a long way to go in stopping age discrimination in the workplace. This type of discrimination, unfortunately, is still present in other areas of society too. Older adults have spent years working on their personal skills and developing their professional expertise, and as such, make for hard working employees, colleagues and volunteers. For seniors who are out of the workplace, many contribute to their communities by taking on volunteering roles. Seniors across Australia volunteer in a number of ways such as tutoring, helping small businesses, assisting with children in need, and helping other less fortunate seniors through companionship and assistance with daily tasks.
6. Older People Aren’t Interested In Developing New Skills
The older generation are still more than capable of learning new things. While they haven’t grown up with digital technologies, this has not stopped the over-65 age group from getting online. Many over 60s are also actively seeking new learning opportunities, and using the extra time that they have on their hands to learn new skills. Many have enrolled in both on and offline college and university courses to learn more about a topic that interests them. In addition, as we mentioned above, many older adults will stay involved in the workforce well beyond the typical retirement age, or alternatively volunteer in their community.
Maintaining a healthy mind and body is essential as we age. At Brain Sparks, we share tools to bring understanding and insight into living the best life you can when coping with health and wellbeing challenges. Why not try our Ageless Grace® course? It is a great way to improve brain health through a combination of fun, playful exercises that will improve your mood and keep you healthy.