Shot of a happy senior couple enjoying quality time at the park.

From Sharp Health News, a publication of Sharp HealthCare

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, adults age 65 and older are expected to outnumber children in the U.S. by 2034 — the first time in our country’s history. Here, we dispel some common myths about the aging process and how it impacts our health.

Myth No. 1: Feeling isolated and lonely is normal as I get older.

Many aging people find themselves feeling isolated and lonely, which may lead to depression, anxiety and sadness. But feeling isolated and lonely is not a normal part of aging. Aging comes with many emotional and mental health benefits. For example, seniors can experience a sense of freedom in how they spend their time, with more time to spend with family and friends.

Myth No. 2: Quitting smoking won’t make a difference at my age.

Quitting smoking at any age offers many health benefits. Within a few hours of quitting smoking, the carbon monoxide level in your blood begins to decline. In a few weeks, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

Additional long-term benefits include improved blood pressure levels and decreased risk of:

  • Respiratory issues and illness
  • Cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Lung disease

Myth No. 3: I can’t participate in the physical activities I enjoyed when I was younger.

Physical activity continues to be very important as you age. Loss of mobility is the result of lost physical and mental health, not aging itself. Your health and longevity are at risk when you have a sedentary lifestyle. Prioritizing physical and mental health — along with managing chronic diseases — helps keep aging adults independent longer.

Myth No. 4: The older I get, the less sleep I need.

A common misconception is that a person’s sleeping needs decline with age. Older adults need the same amount of sleep as all adults — 7 to 9 hours each night. Although your sleeping patterns may change as you age, it’s very important to talk with your doctor before taking sleep aids.

Myth No. 5: Memory loss is inevitable.

The brain can produce connections at any age. Simple forgetfulness — for example, misplacing keys — and delay or slowing in recalling names, dates and events is considered part of the normal aging process. However, when memory problems begin to interfere with your daily life and activities, that is not considered normal. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns.

Myth No. 6: Older adults can’t learn new things.

Older adults can still learn new things, create new memories and improve existing skills. In fact, there are many benefits to the aging mind, including a foundation of knowledge and insight from previous experiences. And the act of learning new skills can help retain memory and cognitive function in adults.

The VEBA Resource Center offers Full Body Stretch classes. With so much extra sitting and stress these days, taking a timeout for a full-body stretch session is more important than ever. Join the VRC team for a class that will leave you feeling relaxed, restored and maybe even standing up a bit straighter! Check out our calendar to sign up for an upcoming class.