Don't let age-old myths about getting old colour your perception about what it will be like when the years start to stack on. In fact, research shows there's a lot to look forward too when we're silver-haired and enjoying retirement!
Myth #1: When I get old, senility is inevitable
Senility is not an inevitable part of ageing. Only a small proportion of the elderly become senile - and research indicates that some age-related declines in mental functioning can be prevented or even reversed! Tufts University scientists have found that symptoms of senility can occur from vitamin deficiencies. So what may be seen as senility - forgetfulness, moodiness and other signs, may be rectified or prevented with a balanced diet! For instance, low levels of vitamin B6 may lower the function of neurotransmitters, while a deficiency in vitamin B12 may result in delusions and mood disturbances. Low folate levels in the elderly can also lead to forgetfulness, irritability and even depression.
Myth #2: I'm too old to quit smoking
Whether you are 50, 60, 70, 80 or 90, it's never too late to change your lifestyle for the better! Kicking stubborn bad habits like smoking even late in life can bring about health benefits. Just 20-minutes of being smoke-free returns the blood pressure, pulse and body temperature to normal. In just 8-hours, your oxygen levels will rise and in 24-hours, you would have reduced your risk of a heart attack already. Hang in there and in 2 days, your nerve endings start to grow back and you can smell and taste better and in 2 months, your lung function will increase. In the long-term, the risk of lung cancer halves by the fifth year!
Myth #3: I will be too frail to exercise
It's also never too late to start getting active. You may not run a marathon (or maybe you could!) -but simple activities like walking, tai chi, yoga and swimming are great ways to start getting some physical activity. It's not weakness or frailty that prevents you from exercise, but exercise that prevents weakness and frailty! Light exercises can prevent and reduce the symptoms of arthritis, pains and aches and poor moods. It can improve quality of life and stave off depression. In a study, 50 men and women aged an average 87 years-old exercised with weights for 10 weeks, increasing muscle strength 113 per cent and walking speed.
Myth #4: I will become cranky and moody
Your personality will remain the same however old you get - unless affected by conditions such as dementia or depression. In fact, many older persons report being the happiest they've ever been. A study published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization found that people feel more content with life after the age of 50 and feel happiest when they retire!
Myth #5: My brain will be too old to learn
Some brain functions may slow down, but the adult brain is never too old to learn and grow! In fact, verbal abilities, math skills, spatial and abstract reasoning all improve in middle age - giving pause to the perception that we'll get duller as we age. The brain actually works harder as we get older, even compensating for cognitive decline by tapping on the use of both hemispheres of the brain when solving problems. The good news for many bilingual speakers is that bilingual brains appear to be more effective at resisting the effects of aging and Alzheimer's Disease, so it's time to polish up those language skills!