Health Myths People in Their 60s Should Stop Believing
Plenty of health myths suggest what will — and won’t — happen to your body. Sure, you’re more likely to encounter some conditions. But some things get better beyond your 60s. Have you heard of the following wellness tales? Here’s why they aren’t true for everyone. One common health myth, in particular, is totally false (on page 10).
1. Myth: Aching joints are ‘normal’ for 60-somethings
Truth: A lack of exercise causes painful joints, but aging often doesn’t.
Many people of all ages experience chronic pain. But it isn’t a normal part of the aging process. Exercising is one of the best things you can do to prevent aches and pains in older age. It can also help relieve any pain you already experience. You’re running out of reasons not to sweat.
Next: How’s your sex life?
2. Myth: Getting older kills your sex drive
Truth: Plenty of seniors are interested — and engage in — sexual activity.
For many older adults, intimacy doesn’t fade as the years go by. About 40% of people 65 and older reported in a survey they were sexually active. Loss of libido isn’t a given just because you’re older. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor.
Next: Saying goodbye to lifelong friends doesn’t guarantee isolation.
3. Myth: The older you get, the lonelier you’ll be
Truth: Loneliness is common, but it’s not guaranteed.
With age comes the loss of friends and loved ones. This doesn’t mean isolation is a necessary — or healthy — side effect. Loneliness can contribute to many chronic health conditions such as dementia and mental health issues. Do your best to get involved in community activities.
Next: Take memory problems seriously but not because you’re 60.
4. Myth: Forgetfulness is ‘normal’
Truth: Memory problems could be an early sign of dementia.
Things like multitasking and difficulty learning new things aren’t uncommon in older adults. But severe memory problems are not considered normal. In fact, forgetfulness could be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Speak with your doctor if you’re having memory issues in your daily life.
Next: A different way of losing your senses
5. Myth: You’ll start to lose your five senses
Truth: Your senses have as much to do with your lifestyle choices.
Your actions prior to your 60s are as much at fault if you start to lose your sense of taste, smell, sight, hearing, or feeling, says the AARP. If you avoided loud noises, ate a balanced diet — which helps keep your eyes healthy — and saw a doctor about smell- or taste-related concerns, then you’re likely in a better place. Ask your doctor about ways to prolong the health of your senses with supplements and tools.
Next: Many famous figures prove this myth false.
6. Myth: Older people are less creative
Truth: Many retired adults have more free time to get creative.
Older brains don’t always look the same as younger ones. But this isn’t associated with creativity. These adults can give you some inspiration: 62-year-old J.R.R. Tolkien published the first volume of The Lord of the Rings; 82-year-old actor Christopher Plummer won an Oscar; and 85-year-old Theodor Mommsen received a Nobel Prize.
In fact, the more you exercise your brain, the healthier it can be. Try these mental exercises to keep your mind sharp and prevent disease.
Next: Does your favorite dessert still tempt you?
7. Myth: You’ll lose your appetite as you get older
Fact: Losing your appetite is actually a sign something is wrong.
Appetite loss doesn’t just happen to people as they age. When it does, it can indicate an underlying medical reason, such as depression or cancer. It isn’t something you should accept or ignore.
Next: You are what you eat — but not after 60?
8. Myth: There’s no point in changing your eating habits
Truth: Seniors who eat balanced diets develop fewer diseases later in life.
No matter your age, healthy eating will enrich your mature years — and might even extend them. Maintaining a balanced diet decreases your risk of developing chronic health conditions (like heart disease) that become more dangerous as you age.
Next: Afraid of the toilet?
9. Myth: You’ll need more bathroom breaks
Truth: “If you’re generally healthy, your urological system likely works about as well as when you were younger,” says the AARP.
Many 60-year-olds have no problem using the bathroom as they age. You are not doomed to experience incontinence or an overactive bladder. Fortunately, if you do struggle with going too often, not going at all, or any issue in between, you can work on bladder training with help from your doctor.
Next: “Osteoporosis” is a scary word for many seniors.
10. Myth: Your bones will break more easily
Truth: This is preventable with the right lifestyle.
Conditions like osteoporosis — which causes bone loss and increases the risk of fractures — are more common in older adults. But there’s plenty you can do to prevent it. Can you guess the most effective preventative treatment? Exercise.
Next: A good reason to sit up straight
11. Myth: Your posture will suffer
Truth: This also happens due to poor lifestyle choices.
Your spine doesn’t naturally “curve” as you get older. Factors such as poor posture and diet over time usually contribute to this. When a person’s upper back curves, it’s known as kyphosis. As you may have guessed, exercise can prevent this from happening.
Next: Size doesn’t matter with this organ.
12. Myth: Your brain shrinks as you age
Truth: Researchers believe this happens due to stress, not aging.
Technically, your brain does lose some mass; there’s nothing you can do about it. But it’s not necessarily because you’re getting older. Lifestyle factors like stress can hurt your brain. Conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, for example, have been shown to contribute to brain shrinkage — not age.
Next: You can’t use excuses with this activity.
13. Myth: Exercise will hurt your body
Truth: While you should avoid some exercises, you can still do many of them.
Some workouts, like deadlifts and high-intensity training, aren’t safe for older adults. But this doesn’t mean all exercise is off-limits. People in their 60s can benefit significantly from activities like yoga, pilates, swimming, and even walking.
Next: It’s not all in the family.
14. Myth: If a family member had a health condition later in life, so will you
Fact: No illness is guaranteed, even if you’re genetically predisposed.
If your mom had heart disease, will you die from it, too? If your uncle had Alzheimer’s, can you expect the same thing? Not necessarily. Genes are one of many risk factors for heart disease and other issues. It’s also about the way you sleep, eat, and breathe — literally.
Next: Another myth about your brain you’ll be glad isn’t true
15. Myth: Your brain stops developing when you’re young
Truth: Adults should continue exercising their brains throughout their lives.
It can appear as though older adults don’t have as much use of their brains as they did when they were younger. But, in reality, the brain continues to develop and change throughout your life. You’re never too old to start learning and creating new things.
Next: Feeling a little down? It’s not necessarily a cause of age.
16. Myth: All older adults are unhappy
Truth: Many older adults deal with depression, but not all older adults are unhappy.
Getting old doesn’t make most people cranky. If your mood changes, it’s possible there’s a treatable underlying cause. About 2 million people 65 and older live with depression. If you feel depressed, don’t write it off as something that just “happens” to older people. Talk to someone who can help.
Next: If you were blessed with “healthy” genes, you aren’t totally safe.
17. Myth: Only your genes can predict your health
Truth: Good genes don’t guarantee you’ll be disease-free.
Some people have “good” genes. They aren’t predisposed to disease any more than the average adult. This doesn’t mean they’re immune to illness.
Lifestyle behaviors such as diet and exercise matter — even as you get older. The best way to prevent disease is to take care of yourself. You’ll enjoy your future much more if you’re healthy enough to fully experience all it has to offer you.
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