There are many misconceptions associated with aging that affect our loved ones as they grow older. These stigmas can negatively impact our elderly loved ones and may affect their interactions with others. However, the later years of life often feature an increase in expendable time, allowing for new experiences and connections. Unfortunately, some elderly people may feel as if they are no longer productive or valuable. It is important as caretakers and family members to help our loved ones embrace the fact that “old age” can be filled with meaning and purpose for those who choose to explore the possibilities. United Methodist Homes rehabilitation facilities have developed 5 misconceptions that can be problematic for our elderly loved ones.
Misconception 1 – Brain Power Lessens as we Age
Mental conditions, like dementia, that decrease short or long-term memory are commonly found among the elderly. However, the notion that everyone loses memory function as they age is fundamentally untrue. In reality, math and verbal abilities and abstract reasoning can actually increase as we grow older. It is important to maintain your brain just like you would for any other part of your body. Mental stimulation such as a Sudoku® or crossword puzzle, or social interaction, can play a critical role in keeping the mind sharp and warding off degenerative conditions.
Misconception 2 – We Become Less Happy as We Age
Old-age is often associated with depression, loneliness and isolation. However, getting older actually means having more spare time to enjoy hobbies and interests. Recent happiness studies have indicated that, with fewer obligations, people tend to be happiest at retirement age. If you notice a drop in cheerfulness in your loved ones, it is important to share with them the wealth of opportunities available to older individuals. They may rediscover an old talent or develop a new passion that they never knew existed.
Misconception 3 – Older Adults are Lonely
Losing family members and close friends is unfortunately a natural part of life. Feeling socially isolated can lead to a decrease in happiness and a feeling of loneliness for your elderly loved ones. However, there are a multitude of social activities and programs designed to help those in similar situations to maintain positive human interactions. Volunteer opportunities, social clubs and senior centers can stimulate social connections that can support your elderly loved ones through the aging process.
Misconception 4 – Older Adults Have Multiple Health Problems
There is no denying that our bodies will wear down as we age. However, growing old does not necessarily mean we have to forfeit our independence and spend the rest of our lives in a hospital. While some older individuals may develop health complications, many of them can be avoided through maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Proper nutrition, [link to previous healthy eating blog] and exercise, can play a significant role in deterring health complications. It is important that you assist your loved ones in this process and encourage them to remain active. If navigating their home is a deterrent in this process, you can also consider a Stannah Stairlift which will ensure they are able to move freely throughout their home safely and independently.
Misconception 5 – “You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”
This idiom is often associated with the aging process, particularly when our elderly loved ones find difficulty in performing an unfamiliar task. While the strategy for learning new skills may be different than it was in their youth, it is important that your elderly loved ones do not shy away from taking on new hobbies and challenges. Processing new information like this can actually help keep the mind sharp and provide an interesting task to remain stimulated throughout the day.
The fear of aging is often brought about by misconceptions associated with the process. It is important that you, or your elderly loved ones, look at growing older as a chance to explore new ventures. By staying active, engaged and open to new experiences, the later years of life can be some of the most rewarding.