You've heard all the myths about how older people are forgetful, decrepit and lonely, but these myths simply aren't true. As a caregiver for your aging parents, you know that they can be as thoughtful, active and social as young people and sometimes more so. That's why it's important to debunk four common aging myths.
1. Older Adults are Forgetful
Alzheimer's affects more than five million Americans every year, and one in three people will have a form of dementia when they die. Your parents don't have to be a statistic. Ward off dementia with:
- Regular exercise
- A healthy diet
- Quality sleep
- Stress management
- An active social life
- Mental stimulation
2. Older Adults are Physically Frail
Bone fractures caused by osteoporosis do affect one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50, but every aging adult does not develop this ailment. Indeed, you can find aging adults in many strength competitions, marathons and other physically challenging sports.
Help your parents stay physically strong when you encourage them to:
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
- Do strength training
- Talk to their doctor about medication
3. Older Adults are Isolated and Lonely
If your parents moved into an assisted living community, they may have left their support system behind. They'll need to make new friends, and that's possible because most older adults experience an increase in social intelligence, which enables them to better understand the inner workings of relationships.
Your parents can lead an active social life as they:
- Make friends with their new neighbors
- Attend social gatherings
- Become involved in book, church or civic clubs
4. Older Adults are Set in Their Ways
After living a certain way for decades, older adults have established certain habits and ways of doing things. Maybe your parents have always shopped at the same grocery store, smoked cigarettes or resisted new technology. They can adapt, thrive and change.
You can help when you:
- Help your parents acclimate to new stores and shops.
- Discuss the health advantages of smoking cessation, including reduced risk for heart attack within 24 hours and increased circulation and lung function within three months of smoking the last cigarette.
- Sign your parents up for a computer class, give them a simple cell phone with pre-programmed numbers and introduce your parents to the joys and advantages of technology.