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Many people have false assumptions about what it means to “get older.” These misconceptions can foster fear and apprehension about aging.

By learning to ignore the following common myths, older adults can improve their well-being and quality of life in the present AND in the years to come.

MYTH 1: Dementia is part of normal aging

Dementia, an abnormal condition that significantly affects a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities, is NOT a normal part of aging. Signs of dementia should not be confused with minor mind and memory changes, such as occasionally misplacing small objects or temporarily forgetting a word. However, if you are concerned that an elderly loved one has experienced significant and chronic changes in memory, mood, or thinking, make an appointment with their doctor.

MYTH 2: Older people cannot learn and do new things

You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Although our learning process changes with age, older people can and should take up new hobbies and learn new skills.

MYTH 3: Older people should avoid exercising

Many older people may skip exercise because they fear overexertion or injury. However, regular and proper exercise can help prevent frailty, reduce the risk of injury, and improve overall health. Exercise can also help boost thinking skills. Always consult a doctor before embarking on a new exercise program.

MYTH 4: Living with multiple chronic conditions is inevitable

Many people believe that old age always leads to chronic diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension. Although genetics can help some people avoid chronic disease, a healthy lifestyle plan is a big part of overall well-being. Making sure you eat well, exercise, and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol can have a significant impact on healthy aging.

MYTH 5: Intimacy and sex become obsolete with old age

Social stigma perpetuates the belief that older people are no longer interested in sex or intimacy. Sex and intimacy are still essential parts of romantic relationships for many seniors. Studies have shown that there is a strong relationship between well-being, intimacy and positive sexual activity.

MYTH 6: Depression and loneliness are normal in older people

Some seniors may experience loneliness and depression, but they can thrive in many social activities. Many experts agree that a social life has many health benefits. If you’re concerned that an elderly loved one may be suffering from depression or isolation, consider the benefits of supportive home care.

MYTH 7: Older people cannot live independently

Although additional support may be needed as a person ages, it is not always as drastic as moving to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Aging in place with professional senior care is possible and has significant benefits for maintaining a high quality of life. Remember that there can still be a lot of joy and fulfillment in life, even in old age.

Visiting Angels provides non-medical assistance in the Lake District. Contact 603-366-1993 for more information.