Beliefs About Aging
#90 Yes, They Matter
The other day, my friend asked what I believed about aging. Truthfully, that topic never entered my mind until five years ago. I was too busy living – being healthy, building a new career, spending time with friends and family, going places, and doing things.
Thoughts about and plans for aging were not part of the equation. In retrospect, perhaps they should have been. I might have made choices that better supported my aging self.
I basically believed that “Yeah, aging happens. Maybe, I’ll have to walk a 3K race rather than run it or wear a hearing aid, but I’ll adjust.” Those beliefs probably needed additional thought because aging is considerably more complex. Now, I have a better understanding of my beliefs and their impact.
MY BELIEFS ABOUT AGING
Using the article Debunking 10 Myths About Senior Citizens, I examined my beliefs responded to the myths in italics.
Myth #1 - Seniors can’t learn new skills.
Look at Queen Elizabeth, who died at age 95 a few weeks ago. She was head of a country, conducting business two days before she died. The actress Betty White was alert and engaged in life before she died at age 99. They were still learning. I learn new skills daily as I read, try new ideas, and write these articles. I know that myth isn’t true.
Myth #2 - There is nothing a person can do to reduce the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
The following quote expresses my beliefs well,
According to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, one in three dementia cases is preventable. Several avoidable factors contribute to the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s’, including inactivity, diabetes, smoking, obesity, hypertension, depression, and social isolation. Staying mentally and physically active and eating a healthy, balanced diet are positive behaviors that can stave off the not necessarily inevitable.
Myth #3 - Most seniors are frail and shouldn’t exercise to avoid injury.
The granfluencer Joan McDonald has a better idea.
I don’t exercise as she does, but I walk at least a mile, climb four flights of stairs, and stretch daily. So, my experience says something different. True, some days I don’t want to and don’t want to hurt myself, so I do proceed cautiously
Myth #4 - Most seniors will end up in a nursing home.
That does not have to be the case. As the Public Policy Institute of California says
Even as the senior population has grown with the aging of the baby boom cohort, the number of seniors in nursing homes has remained steady. According to the American Community Survey, about 88,300 California seniors lived in nursing homes in 2018; that’s about the same number as in 2010 (87,500).
I believe there are things I can do to remain healthy and live independently for a long while.
Myth #5 - Seniors are often depressed, grumpy and isolated.
There are actions people can take to alleviate those circumstances. For example, my daughter and I get together daily for a walk, a glass of wine, and art. I text with my grandsons regularly, and I have a running SKYPE conversation with my son, who lives in another state. I have hobbies and a purpose that keep me busy. OK, I can be grumpy at times.
Myth #6 - Genetics determine how well you age.
As Dr. Roger Landry, author of Live Long, Die Short, says, 70% of how we age is determined by our lifestyle choices.” I believe that choices, like not smoking or drinking excessively, exercising, and eating a healthy diet can keep a person from dying prematurely. I am older than my mother, father, and brother were when they died.
Myth #7 - Seniors don’t have sex anymore.
A University of Michigan study found that “65% of respondents aged 50-80 were still interested in physical intimacy. Seventy-six percent agreed that sex is an important part of a romantic relationship, and 40% replied that they were still sexually active.”
Myth #8 - Most seniors have trouble hearing, seeing, or both. Popular culture’s portrayal of older people hobbling around half blind or deaf is not only unkind but also grossly inaccurate.
My sight and hearing aren’t as sharp as they used to be, but I’m not hobbling around half blind or deaf. I have trouble with my eyes because of a detached retina. Since the surgery, I have experienced double vision and a loss of depth perception – but manage well.
Myth #9 - Seniors should give up driving.
I decided to stop driving because of the detached retina issues, not because of age. If I still had my license, I would stay off the freeways and go when the traffic was light.
Myth #10 All seniors talk about is their ailments.
Talking about my ailments is the last thing I want to discuss. I believe that
So why would I focus on my ailments?
In summary, I don’t believe any of those myths. I think each of us has a say in how we age and can make choices that support ourselves, even with our genetic makeup.
MY BELIEFS ABOUT ME
Beliefs about myself are as important as my beliefs about aging - they motivate my actions and guide me through life. They are woven into my personality and influence my decisions and actions.
If I believe that I can’t fix a computer problem, I most likely won’t try. As Henry Ford said
Unhelpful beliefs include
Others know better than I do.
I can’t figure things out on my own.
I don’t have any power.
I can’t or don’t know how.
I’m too old.
So, I choose to think about maybes, experimenting, or giving something a try.
Take those computer problems. I would have asked someone to fix them two weeks ago. The other day, with the “give it a try” attitude and Google’s help, I solved three of them by myself.
My son-in-law says I can do more than I think I can. Perhaps! And maybe you can too - if you choose.
What unhelpful beliefs do you hold onto about yourself and aging well?
Articles that had a message for me this week were.
Thanks for reading Aging Well News! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.