Aging Stereotypes Demystified
If theres a growth stage that most people are afraid of, then its aging. Its a phase in life where we can use the phrase change is inevitable. But the reality is all-natural living creations are bound to age as time passes. Myths or stereotypes exist, but your definition and opinion of getting older and how you accept these changes in your life will determine whether youll age gracefully or not.
What Is Aging?
Aging is the gradual, constant process of getting older. The beauty is no specified age range denotes you are aged. However, if you experience a decline of your bodily function, notice some physical changes like your hair turning white or grey, or your vision becoming blurry, consider yourself aged. This is the phase where body aches and pains take a toll on most people.
Different cultures have varied perspectives about getting older. While some look up to the aged and consider them full of wisdom, others believe that aging is a syndrome and should be cured. The question is, can aging be eliminated?
The aging population is increasing, and so is their influence on the economy, society, and politics. The input of the aging population in the modern world has played a big role in eliminating stereotypes about aging.
12 Myths Associated with Aging
Are you scared of aging? Often we think about how our lives will be when we get older. We focus on the negative impacts that we forget to cultivate the positive aspects of aging. We need to evaluate our perception of aging. Increasing our knowledge about getting old, defying groundless ideas, and celebrating life as we grow older is the way to go. Lets explore some common misconceptions about aging?
Aged Adults Cant Learn New Skills
The understanding rate and learning style are different in each age group. For instance, you cant compare a preschoolers learning rate and style with that of a high school student or use the same measure to gauge a learners understanding in grade school to that of a university student. If we dont consider these learning differences inappropriate, why categorize older adults as unable learners?
Aged people can learn new skills. The question is, what mode of style suits them. Its true; aging affects the memory, the way we think, but it also comes with positive intellectual capabilities. Older adults have plenty of knowledge and insights equal to their life experiences. They can equally learn various new skills, broaden their memory and do things better.
Giving them the chance to learn new things can boost their reasoning abilities. Older adults who seek to participate in new activities like dancing, piano playing keep their brains active and tend to age less gradually than their inactive counterparts.
Aged Adults Are Prone to Injuries and Should Avoid Exercising
Who is more fragile between a two-year-old and a 65-year-old? Perhaps stereotypes should consider rephrasing this idea more logically. Aging comes with reduced fitness which makes exercising a priority, especially to those with chronic conditions. Besides, being active has more benefits to the body. Exercising and indulging in physical activities improve physical and mental health.
Most aged people doing a few chores are those who participate in some exercises. Even doctors will encourage a young person to exercise when experiencing body functioning limitations due to illness or injuries. Why not an aged adult? Most practitioners managing older adults with chronic illnesses recommend physiotherapy and encourage them to perform some physical activities.
If you want to live an independent, healthy life in your old age, strive to be active. There is a misconception that older adults can easily stumble. Thats not true; taking part in exercises improves their balance and stability, which helps retain their independence and prevent potential falls.
Old Age Is Boring
Aging comes with fewer responsibilities. Retirement hits and no children to take care of. Does not being busy mean boring? After all, this is the perfect time for an aged individual to participate in social gatherings and engage more in community activities.
But do we give them that chance? Older adults look forward to touring the world, especially if they have a spouse to share the serenity with. Others engage more in reading. Some, especially the retired ones, invest in businesses. The goal is to keep themselves active, busy, and entertained by doing things they love.
But its not always easy for everyone. Lack of finances at times is a drawback when getting older. And this explains why saving at an early age is important. A stable source of income can spice up life at an older age. If youve aged parents or grandparents, take them on a vacation of their choice and attest how exciting life can be at old age.
Its Normal to Be Depressed and Get Lonely in Old Age
The family and close friends of the elderly determine if the aged person will feel lonely or not. Besides, society has taken up to care for the aged. The perspective that aging persons are abandoned is highly dependent on how we treat them. The good thing is many people choose to be great companions to the older adults in their family and society. In fact, most elderly persons can attest that theyve received more attention, care, and love in their old age.
Feeling isolated can trigger depression, anxiety, and sadness. But, getting into these emotional states is not normal for the elderly. Thats why older adults need to create and nurture lasting relationships among themselves and family members.
Experts can also prove that depression cases are higher among young adults than older adults. The level of concern given to a depressed young person should be similar to that given to an aging person. Depression is a common disorder among various age groups, and there are effective treatments for various cases.
Alzheimer Disease Is Inheritable at an Older Age
While Alzheimers disease tends to be common in families with dementia cases before, its not certain that a person will suffer a similar disease as they age. Yes, some genes in the family tree increase the risk of suffering Alzheimers disease, but its not necessarily that the children of the ailing parents will follow suit.
While these concerns are viable, consult your doctor if you suspect a possibility of having inherited some genes that may expose you to Alzheimers disease. An experienced practitioner can advise on various steps to help you live a normal life while getting older.But remember, various environmental factors can trigger Alzheimers disease. For instance, smoking, diet, and exposure to contaminants. Alzheimers is a type of dementia, and its never a normal part of old age.
Older Adults Are Alike
The perception that older adults tend to be more alike is common, but its a misplaced concept. Their advice and cautiousness in life may appear relevant, but that doesnt make them alike. Alder adults notice the uniqueness of the young persons around them but tend to
group them based on their age commonalities.
For instance, they may perceive millennials to be consumed in the digital world. Thats not to mean every millennial is addicted to technology. In a similar case, older adults may share a similar age group with their peers, but each has a distinct approach to life. Their perceptions differ, similar to their cognitive abilities.
They become less alike to their equals, unlike the young people. Their uniqueness can be attributed to the different experiences that each has had in their lifetime and diverse life skills. So they tend to perceive the same things and occurrences differently. Whether spiritually, physically, and emotionally, we age differently. One can be old in their 50s, while others may claim to be young in their 70s.
Older Adults Sleep Fewer Hours
Sufficient sleep is good for the body and brain. People who dont get enough sleep feel tired throughout the day and experience deterioration in their performance. Lack of sleep or insomnia is a common disorder among all various age groups.
There are higher rates of insomnia among young adults than in older adults. Sleeplessness is manageable. While it may become harder to fall asleep while aging, it does not mean it is normal for the aged to sleep fewer hours. Older adults need the same quality and quantity of sleep as any other adult. Often recommended is 7-9 hours every night.
It helps keep them alert and active during the day, especially when performing chores or activities that help build their muscles. Sleeping enough as you age will boost your overall mental wellness, reduce risks associated with potential falls, among other health benefits. Besides, the body nourishes itself better when we are asleep.
High Blood Pressure Normalizes at Old Age
Most aging adults believe that some chronic conditions like high blood pressure will vanish when they grow older. Some even stop taking medications at an elderly age. On the contrary, conditions like high blood pressure are common health issues among the elderly.Persons within the age gap 80 -90 years often suffer high blood pressure and can result in severe health problems if not managed through the right medications and diet. If youre diagnosed with high blood pressure at a younger age and succeed in managing it through medication and lifestyle, hold on to that even when getting older.
Breaking from your medication will trigger your blood pressure to rise again, causing other devastating conditions such as stroke or kidney illnesses. You can stop your medication, but not based on your age. Your doctor can advise if youre stable enough to stop your medication. However, theyll devise a gradual plan to ensure you safely adapt to these changes.
All Older Persons Are Bound to Suffer Dementia
Aging persons are likely to be forgetful. Some tend to misplace their keys, and others wont recall an important appointment. Its normal and common, but that does not characterize them as dementia bearers.
Dementia diminishes ones memory, making it hard to recollect, think, or make logical decisions. While this impairment of brain function is common among aged persons, its not inevitable. Some older adults can live to their 90s and beyond without showing any signs of dementia.But in case you notice a decline in your memory and reasoning, you should consult with your doctor. Changes in personality or conduct should also not be ignored. Remember, dementia is treatable and reversible if diagnosed at an early stage.
Once Addicted, You Cant Let Go at Old Age
Some people become alcoholics and smokers at a young age. Efforts to help them quit can sometimes be fruitless. So, they transition into aging with their addiction. The idea that its too late for these individuals to recover from their addiction is a mere misconception.An aged person can quit smoking or taking alcohol. While adverse effects and deterioration of their lifestyle may compel some to stop, the journey to recover from drug addiction is a personal decision regardless of age.
Pneumonia, bronchitis, blood pressure, cancer, and liver problems are common illnesses among many smokers and alcoholics and can be a huge threat while aging. The desire to live a healthy life and age gracefully influences many older adults to quit smoking and drinking. Others want to set a good example for their beloved kids and grandkids, making it easier for them to quit and live a sober life.
Older People Cannot Drive
Most aged persons will be persuaded to hire a personal driver or rely on the young family members to drive them around. Arent they more experienced on the road? Why the limitations? Its vital to keep them safe and ensure safety for other road users.
Therefore, aged persons with impaired memory, vision, or any problems that impede their ability to make proper decisions should not be licensed or allowed to drive. But the question is, at what age should we determine that the old persons in our family or society cant drive?Reduced fitness or strength varies from one person to another. You can have an 80-year-old adult who is stronger and mentally fit than a 65-year-old. So, the ability of the aging persons to drive safely should determine if they should stay behind the wheel or take the back-left seat.
Sex Is Not for the Old
Its ridiculous to think that aging people should not have sexual relations. Unfortunately, even older adults have been meant to believe that they should retire from partaking in sexual activities since its a thing for young people.
Some will even feel embarrassed for having sex. This myth can emotionally devastate an aging person, especially the healthy, active, and physically fit with strong muscles. People dont decline from sexual activities due to age. Its because of this mere misconception, sex is not for the aged.
However, aged persons who have healthy relationships with their partners continue to have sexual relations. People disengage from sexual activities due to overindulgence in feeding, drinking, or lack of interest in their partners. These reasons apply to both young adults and old adults.
The Bottom Line
Now that weve debunked the 12 myths associated with aging, youll have a different view on aging and seniors, and thats what matters most. But one more thing: how are you prepared to soldier on through the next phase of your life? You have the choice to either have fun or take your last breath bored.
Embracing a positive attitude towards aging can make your old life blissful. Every phase of life has its challenges. While aging has its unique challenges, your attitude and health will determine if the myths or stereotypes about aging will negatively or positively impact your life.