5 Health Myths About Aging and How to Bust Them
By Dylan Foster
There are many myths and stereotypes about aging adults. Several might be close to the truth for some, but many are unfair generalizations. For example, there are many physical myths about aging— such as being unhealthy, overweight, or lacking strength. There are also mental stereotypes about seniors, too, such as forgetfulness and irritability. So, what’s the truth about life beyond 65?
Let’s take a look at five of the most common myths about seniors— and see how we can make sure those stereotypes don’t apply in our own lives.
Myth #1: Seniors are unhealthy
Sure, aging naturally takes a toll on the body, but by no means does it equate to being unhealthy. In fact, older adults have many resources to empower them to take control of their physical well-being. Medicare Advantage Plans offered from Anthem Blue Cross are one example. With this supplemental insurance, you can feel confident in your physical health. The services and costs differ from state to state, but in general, they cover wellness programs, prescription drugs, dental care, and vision. And for those who enjoy traveling in their free time, Medicare Advantage Plans will cover emergency services anywhere in the U.S.
Myth #2: Seniors are lonely
One of the most tragic aspects of getting older is surviving friends and family members who have passed away. It can be depressing and isolating, but that doesn’t mean seniors can’t have a social life. Even seniors who live alone or away from family have opportunities to make and keep friendships. Plus, retirement brings freedom to do what you want, including getting involved in more social activities without the lack of energy and “I’d rather just stay on the couch” excuse that working life tends to create. For example, senior centers provide social activities where people can learn life skills, like computers or business, as well as exercise classes, arts and crafts, and cooking. Not to mention the variety of clubs and groups geared toward seniors in most towns and cities.
Myth #3: Seniors are easily agitated
Myths about mental health in seniors are often used to make unfair judgements about their mood and behavior, and the portrayal of older adults as cranky and irritable on television doesn’t help your cause. From mood disorders to cognitive disorders, there are some mental health concerns that put seniors at greater risk. However, you may find that many older adults and seniors experience less stress and agitation now that they have the financial freedom, confidence, and free time to pursue travel, hobbies, social activities, and miscellaneous leisure. But the truth is — and this isn’t just about seniors — the mind-body connection plays a large role in how we manage stress and anxiety. Seniors who know how to limit and control their stress have fewer issues with mental health. And taking up a practice like meditation and yoga help seniors take charge of both their mental and physical health.
Myth #4: Seniors are technologically challenged
It’s hard to keep up with the changes in technology. They happen so fast; it can be confusing to understand how to navigate the latest advances. But that’s a challenge everyone faces, not just seniors. Older adults have lived through so many technological changes there might be some they are more comfortable with than others, but with a little coaching anyone can get up to speed on smart tech, apps, and streaming. From taking aerobics classes on your phone to exploring YouTube videos about meditation or hobbies, technology can boost both mental and physical health for seniors. Remember, new technology is new to everyone, not just older adults and seniors.
Myth #5: Seniors are more rigid
With a whole life of memories and experiences, it’s hard to believe that older adults and seniors aren’t filled with the spirit of adventure. Seniors may have traditional leanings when it comes to adopting certain lifestyles, but that is a far cry from being rigid. If you are a senior who is worried you might be getting stuck in a rut, push past your comfort zones by trying one new physical or mental health activity a week. It can be as simple as taking a cooking class, or as adventurous as taking a seniors cruise or hiking a mountain. As you age, you gain more confidence, deeper wisdom, and life experiences, which would point to the opposite of being rigid. You’ve discovered who you are and you've broken free of confusion you felt when you were entering adulthood, leaving you to learn, explore, and roll with the punches without fear.
There are many myths and stereotypes about aging, but none of them are written in stone. As an older adult or senior, you have the right to live your golden years the way you want. That should include feeling supported and empowered to take charge of your physical and mental well-being.