8 Myths of Aging

This post is in keeping with the theme of recent (and past) healthymemory posts and is also in keeping with this blog’s policy of dispelling myths. It is taken from the A Place for Mom Blog, www.aplaceformom.com/blog “8 Myths of Aging Dispelled.” I have had nothing but pleasant experiences with the A Place for Mom organization. They were extremely helpful in assisting me in finding an appropriate place when we moved my mom to this area. They are the source of much useful information.

Here are the 8 myths.

  1. Aging is Depressing. “Contrary to the myth that aging is depressing, many studies find that seniors are among the happiest age group. Happiness levels by age follow a U-shaped curve, with self reported levels of happiness at their lowest at age 40 growing thereafter. In addition, those who think aging is depressing also believe that it makes seniors grumpier. People who are grumpy in their younger years will likely continue to be unhappyin their later years, but similarly, good natured people continue on a happy trajectory into old age. In other words, one’s attitude comes down to their individual personality, not an age group.

  2. Aging Leads to Loneliness Though social isolation can be a problem for senior, especially those who have limited ability, lack transportation, or who have recently lost a spouse, most seniors are able to stay socially engaged. Activities and visits with friends and familiy and at places such as the local senior center or a place of worship, also help seniors stay socially active and happy.

  3. Aging Dulls Wits and Inevitably Causes Dementia. While aging can create cognitive changes, older people may perform better in certain areas of intelligence and poorer in others. For example,while seniors may have slower reaction times or solve problems slower than younger adults, “mental capabilities that depend most heavily on accumulated knowledge and experience, like setting disputes and enlarging one’s vocabulary, clearly get better over time.” writes Patricia Cohen in the New York Times. What’s more, dementia is anything but inevitable. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, only 5% of those over 65 will develop dementia.

  4. Aging Makes You Unproductive. Though retired people have left the work force, they are hardly unproductive. They contribute countless hours to activities like helping with child-rearing and volunteering, which makes an enormous difference in society. In fact, a 2013 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 24% of senior citizens report engaging in volunteering after retirement.

  5. Aging Makes You Less Creative. There are countless examples that dispel the myth that aging makes you less creative. In fact, many actually find their calling or achieve mastery in their later years. A great example is the immortal “Grandma Moses.” Anna Mary Robinson Moses was an ordinary woman who lived on a farm in upstate New York in the mid 1800s. After her husband passed away, Mrs. Moses (as she like to call herself) transitioned from farm work to a quieter life embroidering for fun and making delicious preserves for her now grown children. But, when arthritis made embroidering too painful, a friend suggested she try painting. Moses took to painting scenes of rural life, and even hung a few of her paintings in the local drugstore. Her paintings caught the eye of a prominent art collector who was passing through town and the rest is history. Her first one-woman art show was held in1940 when Moses was already 80-years-old. She became famous and was dubbed “Grandma Moses,” a name that stuck. She continues to paint until the age 101.

  6. Aging Makes You Unable to Adapt to New Situations. Older people who are not able to adapt to new situations, they are actually experts at adapting. By the time one has become a senior, they have had to adapt to innumerable changes and transitions in life, many of which could have certainly been challenging.. Seniors may be slower to change their opinions, but one of humanities greaters traits, adaptability, is generally retained as we grown old.

  7. Aging Erases Your Libido. Discussing the sex lives of seniors is largely taboo in our culture and has led to stereotypes that the elderly are sexless beings. This stereotype is harmful because it can cause seniors to have conflicted feelings or unnecessary guilt about their sexuality, while simultaneously causing younger people to hold misconceptions about aging and the elderly. As a state of Oregon document notes adroitly: “Research has found that sexual activity and enjoyment do not decrease with age. People with physical health, a sense of well-being and a willing partner re more likely to continue sexual relations. People who are bored with their partnes, mentall or physically tired, afraid of failure or overindulge in food or drink are unlikely to engage in sexual activity. These reasons do not differ a great deal when considering whether or no person will engage in sex at any age.”

  8. Aging Make You More Religious. Seniors have a higher rate of religious attendance than younger people, but this is a generational phenomenon rather than an aging phenomenon. If you regularly attended church growing up, you’re likely to continue to do so as you age. Today’s seniors haven’t become more religious with time. Instead they grew up in a time when more people went to church, which is whysenior re the most religious age group.

I find the way this last myth is handled amusing. It’s as if an explanation or excuse was needed to account for a higher degree of religiosity. It’s as if religion were a maladaptive practice.

I feel compelled to reiterate the healthymemory blog’s philosophy of continuing to pursue cognitive growth throughout the lifespan and not to become cognitive couch potatoes. We should continue to grow as we age. s

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