Since aging might be disturbing and frightening for some, it is common and not surprising to fall into the prey of myths.
According to the World Health Organization, the population over 60 years from 2000 would increase by 11 to 22 percent.
On considering such facts, it is of prime importance to discuss and overcome such myths. As aging is inevitable, only building a positive image about it and staying away from its related lies can help tackle this sensitive phase of life better.
Six Myths of Aging
Betty Friedan says, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” It all depends on how we perceive this process. Here are seven myths about aging people usually believe in easily.
1. Elderly Should Refrain Exercising
As aging proceeds, several people start considering exercise as useless, thinking that it would not benefit them. According to a report in Neuropsychobiology, staying physically active can help boost cognitive function and reduce abdominal fat.
In another study, 142 elderly participants did strength-training exercises. As a result, their muscle strength, size, and performance improved.
What is more interesting; a study of 1,740 elderly found regular exercise to be effective in reducing the early development of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other neurological issues. However, since with age, health tends to decline, it is important to consult a doctor before adopting any new exercise regime.
For instance, high-intensity exercises are not suitable and recommended for elderly patients with osteoporosis. There are many exercises an elderly can choose from to stay active for the rest of their life and avoid any health complications.
According to WHO, a proper workout and diet plan can help anyone to tackle most signs of aging, including bone density, cognitive decline, and blood pressure.
2. Osteoporosis is Only a Women’s Bone Disease
Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease where bones become porous, brittle, and hence weak. With aging, it can later in life be the cause of many bone fractures.
People believing it as only a women’s disease is a myth. It can affect any age group and any sex type. But yes, the condition is more prevalent in the elderly, women, and people with a fair complexion.
According to an International Osteoporosis Foundation report, one in three portions of the entire female population aging above 50 has osteoporosis. Whereas, the occurrence (one in five) is much less in males.
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Another myth you can see people discussing for osteoporosis is about it being unavoidable for women as they enter aging. According to the data mentioned above, if one in three women has osteoporosis, then the remaining two-thirds do not.
To slow down the aging process for bones, the National Institute on Aging advises regular exercise and vitamin D- and calcium-rich diets.
3. Leaving Smoking Would Now Do Nothing Well
Considering it as a myth or totally an excuse, hundreds of oldies believe quitting smoking is useless. Is that so? The NHS disagrees with this and explains that even though quitting smoking is a difficult job, leaving it would should immediate health improvements.
No matter how much nicotine you have inhaled, benefits would start taking over sooner or later.
4. Elderly Have a Different Sleeping Pattern
Where some people think the elderly should sleep less, others focus on letting them sleep more to rest and recover. Such myths are difficult to work on, as multiple factors influence the cause.
Most of the Elderly find difficulty in sleeping, and thus, complete their time in fragments. Experts advise day naps as there is a disruption in the circadian cycle as aging proceeds.
Disturbance in the sleep cycle can cause physiological changes in the body, including hormonal fluctuations. It creates a vicious cycle, causing further difficulty in sleeping. Diseases like osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, COPD, and heart failure can further make the elderly struggle to fall sleep.
According to the CDC, seven to nine hours of sleep for the elderly between 61 and 64 and seven to eight hours for 65 above is sufficient to stay healthy. A study in the Journal of Sleep Research states that the elderly are much better at controlling sleep deprivation than the middle-aged or youngsters in terms of behavior and neurological effects.
5. Elderly Cannot Avoid Dementia and Cognitive Decline
The World Health Organization calls for an increased risk of developing dementia with age. However, they have never asserted that it would affect all.
Many people consider cognitive decline to always cause dementia. You can call it the other way round. People with dementia always get to have cognitive decline. As per a study, only 22.2% elderly above 71 faces cognitive decline, and for only 11.7 to 20 percent, it becomes a cause for dementia.
Regardless of the people beholding the myth that old aged people cannot avoid cognitive decline, there are several strategies to avoid it.
In 2015 Alzheimer’s Association counted the factors that can be changed to reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Their report was shared with the World Dementia Council, which showed having sufficient evidence to drop the occurrence of both the neurological changes.
According to the report, managing key factors for a healthy heart can help to avoid and slow down cognitive decline. These factors include obesity, exercise, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking. They also found cognitive-training and a healthy diet to help challenge dementia and cognitive decline.
6. Sexual Intimacy Tends to Decline with Age
A number of people think as elderly unfit to have sex as their reproductive organs fail to let them enjoy it. Yes, vaginal dryness and erectile dysfunction are signs of aging and can tend to drop intimacy, but not everyone considers it as a hindrance.
Viagra, medicated creams, and lubricants can make things easy for many. However, it is necessary to consult a doctor before opting for any of these.
A report in the International Journal of Clinical Practice shows 0.4% of men have erectile dysfunction in their teens, while 11.5% of men having it in their 60s. However, looking at the statistics the other way round can help it look less scary. Nine in ten men aged 60-69 do not face reproductive issues like erectile dysfunction.
Even though sexual intercourse with older men would not be very furious and wild, it can be interesting, as the erection can last longer due to less sensitivity.
For many, they would not have the same sexual drive as they had in their teenage life, but some would still enjoy it. A study of 158 elderly reports of both men and women having remarkable sex lives in later phases of life, even though they now had frequent and lesser intimacy moments.
The Bottom Line
The focus point of all the myths surrounding aging is pessimism. People believe aging as a painful, dull, and unbearable process. They consider it inevitable, and therefore, continue to drown into the puddle of myths.
Yes, with age, some biological processes tend to slow down, but this is not for all. Keeping an optimistic approach and image about aging can help build positive physical traits of aging.