Negative perceptions about aging are widespread, but often wrong, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. While many people equate aging with forgetfulness, sexual dysfunction and chronic illness, most older Americans report their quality of life is quite good.
Poor health is not an inevitable consequence of aging. You can live a very healthy and happy life long into your senior years by taking better care of yourself now.
Of course, many people will experience challenges related to aging, but overall the Pew report says older people tend to express greater satisfaction with life than their younger counterparts.
One reason: many common expectations about aging never come true. Let’s look at a few of these misconceptions, such as:
“What’s your name again?”
While you may have trouble recalling names quickly as you age, you’ll generally still have brain power to spare. The trick to keeping cognitive skills sharp and avoiding dementia is to do regular physical activity and jog your brain by learning and practicing new skills.
Remember, many factors can influence brain function, including medications, diet and treatable health issues like depression and heart disease. So, see a doctor if you’re bothered by memory lapses. Another myth:
“Old dogs can’t learn new tricks.”
Older people can and do learn many new things, including how to use technology.
According to the Pew Research Center, more than half of adults over 65 use the Internet, and 70 percent of them use a cell phone. A rapidly growing number of seniors are connecting with friends and family through social media sites. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Reach out to younger family members and senior centers for help, if you need it. “Arthritis or other diseases are going to make me dependent on others.”
Though our bodies do suffer wear and tear as we age, frailty is not inevitable.
In the Pew study, more than 9 in 10 respondents ages 65 and older were living independently in their own homes.
To avoid debilitating diseases that lead to dependence, keep moving. A recent study in the journal Circulation found that physical activity reduces inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease. Exercise also can improve arthritis and slow age-related bone and muscle loss.
Finally, follow a nutritious diet and keep your weight under control. Many diseases like cancer and diabetes may be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight.
To contact Dr. Montes De Oca, tel. 305- 629-9644 or visit www.kendallprimarycare.com
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