May 21
Aging Facts & Myths

Celebrating Older Americans: Separating the Facts from the Myths about Aging

The myths associated with aging are too numerous to count. They range from the assumption that growing older automatically means your health will decline to the idea that seniors can’t learn new skills or hobbies.
Every spring, the month of May is designated by Congress as a time to celebrate and honor the role older Americans play in our communities. We wanted to help raise awareness of their contributions by busting some of the more popular myths about aging.

The Truth about Growing Older

Here is the real truth behind some of the more popular myths about aging.

Myth: Almost all senior citizens suffer with health problems.

Fact: Over the past few decades, we’ve learned just how much lifestyle affects aging. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet in conjunction with adhering to routine exercise and strength training can promote successful aging. Not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke is also critical. Finally, consuming alcohol in moderation may help keep you healthier longer.

Myth: By the age of 60, you will feel old.

Fact: A study conducted by Pew Research in 2009 examined how people expected to feel when they got older and how they actually felt once that date on the calendar arrived. What they discovered was that 60% of people over the age of 65 actually felt 10 to 20 years younger. They felt upbeat about their life and grateful for their blessings.

Myth: Seniors mostly play cards and golf.

Fact: Look around you and it won’t be hard to notice how truly inaccurate this myth is. While many older adults might enjoy getting together with friends for a game of cards or a round of golf, they are far more engaged with life than previous generations. A recent study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation revealed that every year since 1996 Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 have started more new businesses than those aged 20 to 34.

Myth: Senior citizens are unhappy and grumpy most of the time.

Fact: This couldn’t be more false. Worry and stress subside with age, according to a study at Stony Brook University.  Their research found that happiness actually begins to increase at age 50 and continues to improve for up to twenty-five more years.

Myth: Your brain shrinks as you get older so you can’t learn new things.

Fact:  This is another persistent myth. While it is true that we learn differently when we are older, seniors are able to continue pursuing new hobbies and learning new skills throughout their life. In fact, learning new things helps to provide your brain with the workout it needs to stay healthy.

To see how vibrant life can be as you grow older, we invite you to explore the events that take place every day in Era Living communities all around Seattle.