The human species diverged from an ancient predecessor that we share with chimpanzees some 300,000 generations ago. Human life expectancy at birth has doubled since that time.
The life expectancy at birth has doubled once more during the past 200 years. Humans are among the longest-living animals. The percentage of the world’s population over 60 years old will double between 2000 and 2050, from around 11% to 22%. This is a prediction by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Given these facts, it seems more important than ever in the course of human evolution to refute the numerous myths surrounding ageing. We shall dispel fallacies about exercise, mental capacity, sex, and other topics in this essay.
Physical ageing is unavoidable.
It’s not entirely false, though. Our bodies do deteriorate with age as a result of years of use. Physical decline need not be complete, though, and it is frequently possible to slow it down.
According to the WHO, “changing diet and increasing physical activity can successfully manage many of the disorders commonly linked with old age.” Reduced bone density, increased body fat, high blood pressure, and decreased strength are some of these issues.
According to several studies, even anticipating physical decline increases the likelihood that it will really happen. In one study, 148 older persons were polled about their expectations for ageing, lifestyles, and overall health.
Those over 60 shouldn’t exercise
This is a myth, as was made very obvious in the preceding section. Maintaining an active lifestyle can increase muscle strength, reduce fat, and enhance mental health, according to Neuropsychobiology paper.
Some people feel that exercise is useless once they reach a particular age since they don’t believe it will have any positive effects. Another myth is this one. In one study, experts subjected 142 seniors between the ages of 60 and 80 to a 42-week weight-lifting regimen.
The course improved “dynamic muscular strength, muscle growth, and functional capability,” according to the investigators.
Additionally, there is strong proof that regular exercise can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Regular exercise was “related with a delay in onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” according to a study involving 1,740 older persons.
However, if a person has a medical condition, they should speak to their doctor before starting a new fitness programme. For instance, the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom advises against doing high impact exercise if you have a condition like osteoporosis that is age-related.
Elderly people may require less (or more) sleep.
It’s a common misconception that older people like to snooze, some people think older people need more sleep than younger ones do. Others claim that elderly people require less sleep. This could be due to the myth that older people get up earlier in the morning.
Because there are so many different factors at play, it can be challenging to dispel these fallacies. Undoubtedly, older folks have more trouble falling asleep and tend to have more interrupted sleep. Reliable Source.
This may help to explain why some elderly people require daytime naps. The circadian (daily) rhythms can be upset as the human body ages.
Hence, sleep quality may be affected. The relationship is complex because, if a person’s circadian rhythms are thrown off, it can affect their sleep. Also, other facets of their physiology including hormone levels.
In addition to circadian disruptions, certain illnesses that are more prevalent in older persons, such osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, can be uncomfortable and have a negative impact on a person’s ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Osteoporosis only affects women.
The disorder osteoporosis causes the bones to progressively deteriorate. Some individuals think that only women are impacted. This is untrue; it can impact persons of any age and of any sex. Nonetheless, older adults, women, and persons of colour are far more likely to develop osteoporosis.
The International Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that around 1 in 3 women over 50 have osteoporosis and approximately 1 in 5 men may experience a bone fracture due to osteoporosis in their lifetime, according to an overview article.
The idea that osteoporosis is a given for older women is a related misconception. According to the aforementioned statistics, 2/3 of women over 50 do not have osteoporosis. The National Institute on Aging advises people to routinely exercise and eat foods high in calcium and vitamin D to reduce hazards.
Your brain slows down as you age.
The term “cognitive decline” refers to a steady fall in mental capacity with ageing, but before we get to the facts, let’s bust a few myths that go along with it:
When you become older, dementia is inevitable.
The WHO states that while dementia does not afflict all older persons, its risk rises with age. According to estimates, dementia affects 5-8% of adults over 60 in the world. Thus, 92%–95% of adults 60 years of age and older do not have dementia.
According to estimates, 13.9% of Americans over 71 have dementia, leaving 86.1% of those over 71 dementia-free.
Dementia is brought on by cognitive deterioration.
Contrary to common belief, cognitive decline does not always mean that dementia is about to set in.
Cognitive decline typically comes first in people who go on to develop dementia. Dementia does not necessarily occur in everyone who develops cognitive decline.
A previous study estimated that cognitive decline affects 22.2% of Americans 71 years of age or older. Each year, 11.7% to 20% of them experience dementia.
Inevitable cognitive ageing
Despite the long-held misconception that older persons endure a mental slowing down, the figures above demonstrate that cognitive decline is not unavoidable. What’s more, there are strategies to lower the danger.
The evidence of modifiable risk factors for dementia and cognitive decline was assessed by the Alzheimer’s Association in 2015. “There is adequate evidence to suggest the association between numerous modifiable risk factors and a lower risk for cognitive decline,” their report to the Global Dementia Council states.
They discovered that a lower risk of cognitive decline was highly connected with maintaining regular physical exercise and treating traditional cardiovascular risk factors, such as diabetes, obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure.
Also, they discovered solid proof that a healthy diet, lifelong learning, and cognitive training all lower the risk of cognitive decline.
Giving up smoking right now would be pointless.
Several older folks claim that it makes no sense to stop smoking at “their age,” regardless of whether this is a true myth or just an excuse. That is untrue. As the NHS explains in detail:
No matter how long you’ve smoked or how many cigarettes you smoke each day, as soon as you stop, your health will begin to improve. It doesn’t matter if the health advantages are immediate or delayed; the important thing is to get started.
As age, sex becomes scarce or impossible.
Some individuals think that as people age, they lose the ability to enjoy sex and their sexual organs stop functioning properly. Thankfully, this is a myth.
Although the likelihood of erectile dysfunction (ED) and vaginal dryness increases with age, for the majority of people, these issues are not insurmountable.
In many situations, lubricants, hormone creams, and sildenafil (Viagra) can perform miracles. However, because Viagra is not appropriate for everyone, it is imperative to consult a doctor before using it.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, only 0.4% of men between the ages of 18 and 29 and 11.5% of men between the ages of 60 and 69 experience ED. The fact that approximately 9 out of 10 men in their 60s do not have ED, however, turns that number on its head and makes it appear much less intimidating.
Generally, the majority of age-related misconceptions seem to focus on inevitable ageing. Many assume that as their lives get more and more intolerable, dull, passionless, and unpleasant, they will eventually disintegrate into dust.
None of the aforementioned is a given for everyone, despite the possibility that some aspects of health may deteriorate with age. As we have learned, having a positive psychological perspective on ageing can help with its physical effects.
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