Getting older is something we all seem to dread. However, it can be a positive and enjoyable experience if you don’t fall for the myths.Here are some common myths about aging and the real truth behind them!
Dementia is Inevitable
Dementia is more common in the elderly but it is not always a part of aging. Alzheimer’s disease is considered to be a medical condition and is treated as such with medications and therapy. In addition, cognitive decline or loss of mental function of any type is not usually a simple result of aging and many elderly adults maintain full cognitive status well into their nineties and beyond.
Medical conditions, nutrition, and medication-related issues may be responsible for some symptoms that look like dementia. High blood pressure and other vascular issues can contribute to blood vessel damage which may reduce blood flow to the brain. Certain medications may depress the nervous system and result in loss of mental status. Additionally, inadequate nutrition may also reduce brain functioning.
Attention to treatable issues may solve some symptoms of cognitive decline but in many cases, these symptoms can be prevented by controlling medical disease, maintaining adequate nutrition, and encouraging healthy lifestyle practices such as exercise which can reduce the risk of dementia by up to 50 percent!
Pain is Inevitable
Just as dementia is not a given fact, neither is pain. Arthritis is more common in the elderly but much of the disability and pain can be mediated by lifestyle modifications.
In many cases, arthritis can be prevented by losing weight, wearing supportive shoes and limiting joint-damaging exercise but when arthritis occurs, medical treatments may help.
Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin have been shown to have a positive effect, prescription medications are available for inflammation and pain and ultimately many elders experience a complete renewal of physical ability with a joint replacement.
Depression is Inevitable
Depression is never inevitable. Many people do fear aging and some elderly people are depressed. This may be due to social conditions such as loss of a spouse or other loved ones, changes in living status, and lack of social interaction.
In many cases, the introduction of social activities may help with loneliness and elders often benefit from short therapy sessions. Therapy or other group sessions may help the elder to deal with loss of loved ones or to discuss feelings about changes in the living environment.
If depression is severe, medical treatment may be warranted but may be only needed for a short period of time.
It’s too Late to Start Exercising
Many people believe that since they didn’t exercise in their younger years, it’s too late to start. Exercise does show long-term health benefits but any time is the right time to begin. Exercise can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and other heart conditions, may help reduce weight and may increase blood flow to the brain.
Most people who exercise experience increases in energy levels, decreases in fatigue and depression, and are able to sleep more soundly. Weight-bearing exercise also increases muscle strength, which can become a problem in some of the elderly.
There is No More Physical Intimacy
No matter what you think, romance and intimacy does not end when you age. In fact, the chances of maintaining physical intimacy depend mainly on health and not age.
Healthy elders are often just as likely to be sexually active than most of their younger counterparts, provided that their partner is also healthy. Elders should be reminded that sexually transmitted disease are a risk at any age when not in a monogamous relationship.
The bottom line is that aging does not have to be scary or painful. Be optimistic and have a positive perspective on all the wonderful opportunities aging presents.