Only 4% of Americans over 65 live in nursing homes.
Of people 85 and up, over half of them can go about their daily activities without assistance.
The vast majority of older Americans live independently until they come down with whatever kills them.
Dementia? Rates are dropping; fear of Alzheimer’s affects more people than the disease.
Sexual activity tends to decrease with age yet retirement homes are full with romance.
Depression? Older people enjoy better mental health than the young or middle-aged.
Everyone worries about getting old. Will I have enough money? Will I be alone? Will I get sick? These fears are real. I’ve been sharing with you the facts about aging because the more you know the better you feel about the myths, and the better you can deal with the realities of the years ahead. The biggest fears and myths are: no more sex, loss of independence, loss of health, loss of mental capacity. Regarding the fear of forgetting, remember this:
– Serious mental decline is not a normal or inevitable part of aging.
– Most forgetfulness is not Alzheimer's or dementia and can be accommodated.
– About 20% of people in their nineties seem to escape any cognitive decline at all!
And even as the population ages, dementia rates are falling, significantly. And people are being diagnosed older and older. So what can you do about normal brain aging?
We all know how important it is to stay physically fit. Move your body so blood goes to the brain. Walk frequently. Do yoga daily. Partner dancing tops the list for reducing mental and physical decline!
We must also do mental activity to fend off cognitive decline. Devote 3 hours a day to creative and
mentally engrossing activity. Novelty, complexity and problem solving are key! Learn a new language, play a musical instrument.
What about the positive aspects of aging on the brain?
A 2015 study in Psychological Science studied cognitive abilities in people of all ages and found that
four types of proficiencies didn’;t fully ripen until people were in their fifties: vocabulary, math, general knowledge and comprehension. Scientists, psychologists and geriatricians agree that the older brain holds potential for deep creativity and intellectual potential.
When it comes to emotions, older brains are more resilient. Frontal lobe changes improve our ability to deal with anger, envy and fear. The normal aging brain enables greater emotional maturity, adaptability to change, and levels of well-being. As you mature, you get more philosophical. Things don’t upset you as much. Think of all the knowledge and experience you gain as you age. Not allolder people are wise, but aging definitely offers the opportunity to develop wisdom.
What about the other standard myths about loss of sex, health, independence, etc.? The outcomes
are as varied as humans are. All age-related changes can be understood, anticipated, diminished,
embraced, accommodated so we can all enjoy the tremendous gifts that long life affords. See more
on these topics: Ashton Applewhite, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism
It takes one to know one! Ageism is a prejudice against our future selves. It doesn’t make sense to discriminate against a group that we hope to join! So put aside fear and ignorance and learn about the beauty of your older self.
enables us to become more self-aware and confident, less fearful of being judged, more authentically happy. Studies prove that aging isn’t a steady decent into misery; it’s a continuous process of personal development.
If we embrace this natural process, we can be more realistic and optimistic about what lies ahead. The sooner growing older is stripped of dread and apprehension, the better equipped we are to
benefit from the countless ways it will enrich us.
prejudices influence the effect: affluence buys more health and comfort, older women are currently valued less than older men, experience gained over years is ignored in hiring. Compounded biases
make poor, old women of color the most neglected people worldwide! Young people get it too; heard any attitudes about millennial?You may be in a dominant gender, race, sexual orientation, physical health, religion or social status and never have experienced oppression, but because everyone has or will experience negative,
socialized age-based attitudes and behaviors it can open our eyes to all unfair judgments and treatment. The common experience of aging unites us all. If we dismantle the fear and ignorance around aging we help our future selves and can tackle other forms of prejudice. And it starts with you.
pride at every age.
The less I fight the changes of aging and embrace the benefits, the more I love my life. It’s a process, takes time, and is SO worth it.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference. -Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971).
Some questions to help you understand and change:
- What are some of the assumptions you hold about getting older?
- Where have they come from and what purpose do they serve? Are they fact, myth, belief?
- What are your fears and other feelings about older people and aging?
- What about your age-related self do you reject?
- What can you surrender to that you cannot control?
- What can you do to plan for and take care of your future older self?
- Make a list of all the great things about living long; the opportunities, experiences, and joys.
- How can we make the world a better place to get old in?
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. -“Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann