Dementia is inevitable
While it’s true that age is the greatest risk factor for dementia, it is not inevitable that you will be among those people who suffer from at least one form of the condition. Regular physical activity, eating healthily, consuming alcohol only in moderation, and remaining mentally active can all help reduce your risk.
You must put up with loneliness
Older people are more vulnerable to social isolation and its resulting loneliness. It can feel difficult to reach out for help, especially if you have limited mobility, but do try. Consider inviting a neighbor for a cup of tea, or phoning a relative or friend. Many places also have helplines for seniors to call if they feel the need for a friendly voice.
Inability to learn new things
It’s a stereotype to suggest that older people cannot learn new things. Yes, the brain is more plastic (and so better able to learn) at a young age – but that age is actually below around 25. As you age, you might require different techniques for learning but the act of learning itself is invaluable when it comes to keeping your mental acuity sharp.
Lack of friends
It’s common to experience a falling-away of friends as you get older. Death, illness, limited mobility, and people moving away to be closer to family are all potential reasons. However, you can make friends at any stage of life – and they don’t have to be the same age as you. A shared hobby is one potential route to new friends.
You need less sleep
It’s a fallacy that older adults need less sleep than younger ones. Instead, most adults require between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. However, as you grow older, you may find that you become tired earlier in the evening and wake earlier in the morning.
Depression is normal
Many studies report higher rates of depression in older adults. The reasons for this are complex and vary among individuals. However, illness, bereavement, and social isolation can all play a part. However, depression is not something to put up with it. It’s usually eminently treatment provided you seek advice from your primary healthcare provider.
You should take life easy
If you’ve never been one to take life easy, why start just because you’re older? Fair enough if you’re limited – whether temporarily or permanently – by illness or mobility problems but remaining as active as possible and involved in your community helps physical and mental health.
Take it easy with exercise
Joint problems and other health concerns may make exercise harder than when you were younger. However, this isn’t the case for everyone and, according to the CDC, adults over 65 need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. Your precise exercise routine will depend on your health and fitness level but taking it easy simply because you’re a senior is unnecessary.
You must give up driving
There’s no upper age limit for driving a car. That said, some states and countries do impose periodic checks of driving skills and eyesight – but these may also apply to younger people. Whatever your age, it’s always essential to ensure that your eyesight, reaction times, cognitive abilities, and physical health are up to the demands of driving.
Family history spells out your future
It is sometimes easy to assume that because your father had cancer or your mother developed dementia, the same thing will happen to you. Yes, some illness have an hereditary element but very few are hereditary to the extent that you have a 100% chance of developing a particular condition.
Osteoporosis isn’t a problem for men
It’s true that osteoporosis is a particular concern for women. Bone loss accelerates rapidly after reaching menopause, making women vulnerable to fractures. However, the condition also affects some men. You may be at risk if you’re a heavy smoker or drinker, if you take certain medications, if you have Parkinson’s Disease, or you have low levels of testosterone or estrogen.
You’ll have to wear dentures
Once upon a time, tooth loss was common in adults. Indeed, in some places, a popular 21st birthday present involved dental extractions and a replacement set of dentures. However, with good dental hygiene, a sensible diet, and regular check-ups, there’s no reason to assume that most or even all of your teeth can’t remain with you for life.
Only women get breast cancer
In the US, women have a lifetime risk of developing breast cancer of about 13%. Similar percentages apply elsewhere in the developed world. However, the risk to men is not zero. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 833 men will develop the disease. Potential symptoms are the same as for women: lumps or thickened, changes to the skin or nipple, or discharge.
Heart attacks present similarly in men and women
Much of the advice relating to heart attack symptoms refers to men. While a woman may experience the classic crushing chest pain that radiates down the left arm, she’s also more likely than a man to describe the sensation as uncomfortable pressure or squeezing. Women are also more likely to experience a heart attack as sudden paralyzing anxiety, sudden sickness, or excessive coughing or wheezing.
You develop a dowager’s hump
A dowager’s hump is the forward rounding of the shoulders. It can happen at any age, especially among people with poor posture or who use computers for long hours. However, older women are more prone to developing them as a consequence of osteoporosis or weakness in the spinal bones. That said, a dowager’s hump isn’t inevitable – and treatment may improve their appearance.
You’re too old to give up smoking
Smoking is a physical addiction. Consequently, giving it up is hard, no matter your age. However, the health benefits of quitting do not diminish as you get older. Yes, the longer-term benefits may take a decade to kick in but, in the shorter term, you’ll be less breathless and better able to exercise.
You shouldn’t go abroad
Shrinking horizons are common in some older people. However, continuing to engage with the world offers positive benefits to physical and mental wellbeing. If you’ve previously enjoyed travelling overseas, age isn’t an automatic bar to continuing to do so. If solo traveling starts to worry you, think about joining forces with likeminded people, whether they’re friends or a travel company that specializes in senior travel.
You don’t need to worry about alcohol consumption
Drinking more than the recommended maximum is a concern at any age. Blood pressure, stroke risk, heart health, cancer risk profile, and increased propensity to engage in risky behavior are just some of the health concerns. Stopping or drastically reducing alcohol consumption can offer immediate positive health benefits regardless of your age.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are the same thing
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia. The two are not necessarily the same thing. Other forms of dementia include Lewy Body disease, Vascular dementia, Frontotemporal lobe dementia, and mixed dementia, which is a combination of one or more different types. Some older people also develop Mild Cognitive Impairment, which is not dementia but which may progress to it.
High blood pressure isn’t serious
High blood pressure is a health concern regardless of your age. It raises your risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke, and may also be associated with other health conditions. Reducing your blood pressure to a healthy level is one of the most positive steps you can take for your health. Cutting out salt and taking more exercise are both beneficial.
You stop having sex
Contrary to popular belief, the over-60s – and even the over-80s – are not all celibate. While it’s true that libido often drops with age (especially with the menopause) and that some health issues can cause impotence, many seniors continue enjoy full and active sex lives. Medications for impotence, HRT, lubricants, and a willingness to try new positions can all help.
Only very old people get Alzheimer’s disease
In the US, around one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. And, while it’s true that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease rises with age, it can affect younger people. For instance, at 65, an estimated 10% of people have Alzheimer’s and an early onset form of the disease can affect even younger people.
Anti-aging skin products make you look younger
Despite all the claims on the packets, nothing you put onto your skin can take off the years. However, depending on the ingredients and on your skin, some products may reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and make the skin appear plumper. Ultimately, however, diet, hydration levels, sun protection, whether you’re a smoker, and genetics are at least as important.
Alzheimer’s symptoms are normal
It can be tricky distinguish age-induced forgetfulness from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. However, if you eventually remember the information you were seeking, you’re probably fine. And even if your symptoms do point towards Alzheimer’s, it’s important to seek medical advice. Apart from anything else, new drug treatments are increasingly successful at slowing the pace of the disease if they’re given sufficiently early.
Arthritis is inevitable
Your risk of developing osteoarthritis increases as you get older. However, it’s not inevitable that you will suffer with it and, if you do, symptoms frequently come and go. And, unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which tends to start at a much earlier age, it’s also not inevitable that your osteoarthritis will continue to worsen.
You outlive your friends
While you may, of course, notice the occasional gap in the row of Christmas cards on the mantelpiece, there’s no reason that you will outlive all your friends. If you make the effort to cultivate friends of different ages, you’re far less likely to find yourself the last survivor of your social circles.
Weight gain is inevitable
Metabolism and daily calorie need change as we get older. If you carry on eating and exercising (or not) as you’ve always done, you may notice the pounds creeping on. You may also notice that your weight distribution changes. However, a few adjustments to what and how much you eat, and to your exercise regime can be sufficient to head off the problem.
Alzheimer’s disease has no treatment
At the moment, it is unfortunately true that Alzheimer’s has no cure. However, as we’ve already indicated, you may be able to access medication that will slow the advance of the disease. Furthermore, many people find a variety of self-help techniques to help them cope and remain independent for as long as possible. These include making lists, labelling items, and setting alarms.
You can take supplements to prevent Alzheimer’s
Although there’s some evidence that taking vitamin C in conjunction with vitamin E can help reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s, there’s no scientific proof to support claims that any supplement can prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, staying mentally and physically active, learning new skills (for instance, a musical instrument or a new language), eating well, and remaining a healthy weight are all potentially helpful.
You suffer serious illness
When you see older relatives and friends suffering serious illnesses it’s easy to assume that, one day, it’ll be your turn. And, of course, this might happen. However, despite statistics from the National Council on Aging suggesting that 95% of Americans over 60 have at least one chronic illness, it’s worth remembering that “chronic” doesn’t always equal “serious”.
You won’t be needed anymore
As your children grow up and perhaps have their own families, it’s natural to worry that no one will need you anymore. However, perhaps you provide childcare for your grandchildren or occasional financial support for younger relatives. And, even if you do neither, remember that your family and friends will continue to value your ideas, advice, and, above all, your company.
You struggle financially
Moving from a regular monthly or weekly pay check to a pension can prove a shock. However not everyone experiences a huge disparity between pre- and post-retirement incomes. Prudent financial planning during your working years can help. However, even if there’s very little money to set aside, remember that your post-retirement expenditure may be lower, and you may be eligible for additional financial support.
You have to move into residential care
The idea of moving out of a much-loved home into residential care fills many people with horror. However, it’s far from a certainty. Many people manage independently for much longer than they expected and, even if you end up moving into sheltered accommodation or a nursing home, you may find it’s a great opportunity to make a new social circle.
You’re a burden on your family
It’s understandable to worry that your declining health, increasing frailty or reduced mobility is impacting your family. If finances allow, a willingness to seek and accept external help – for example, carers, gardener, cleaner – can significantly reduce any burden on your family and help ensure that the time you spend together is enjoyable rather than devoted to ticking off items from a “to do” list.
You must start “death cleaning”
The Swedish idea of “death cleaning” is gaining traction elsewhere. Essentially, it means getting rid of excess possessions in order to make daily life easier and to reduce the burden on whoever sorts out your affairs after your death. If the idea appeals to you, great! If it doesn’t, forget it – and don’t worry about it.
You shouldn’t get a pet
If you’re an animal lover who enjoys the companionship of a pet, being without a dog or cat can be very difficult. However, worries over what will happen to your pet if you predecease may stop you getting a new cat or dog. However, perhaps you have family who would undertake to look after the pet if necessary. Alternatively, charities exist to fill this gap.
You won’t get travel insurance
Although travel insurance is often easier and cheaper to obtain if you’re young and fit, it’s definitely not unobtainable if you’re older and even if you have health issues. Mainstream companies will often insure you – so do make enquiries. However, if you draw a blank, contact one of the specialist companies that operate in this market.
You need help with technology
Perhaps it’s already a family joke. Perhaps you do need someone to help you set up your new cell phone or operate your new DVR. However, perhaps it doesn’t need to be this way. Why not consider taking a class in technology for seniors? It’ll have the dual function of teaching you what you need to know and helping keep your brain active.
Muscle fibers decline
Admittedly, there’s some truth to this one: humans do begin to lose muscle mass after the age of about 50. The lost muscle is replaced by tough fibrous tissue, while existing muscles become slower to contract and less toned. However, although it may take longer and the effects be less noticeable than when you were younger, it’s possible to build new muscle regardless of age.
You lose interest in the outside world
It’s a tough truth but this only happens if you let it. If you make the effort to continue the hobbies you enjoy and perhaps pick up some new ones, you’ll naturally retain an interest in the outside world. If health or mobility issues curtail you, the internet is a wonderful resource for learning new things and socializing with like-minded people.