What You Need to Know About Aging: Myths and Facts 

March 21, 2024

Do you have a fear of aging? You’re not alone. In a recent Forbes survey, more than half of the respondents under the age of 57 were worried about getting older. That percentage plummeted amongst senior survey takers. Only 20% of those past their 77th year said they were worried. Then again, it’s easy not to worry about a journey when you’ve already arrived at your destination. 

Growing older is inevitable. All you have to do is stay alive. Then again, are you really afraid of the years or the mileage? What worries most of us isn’t aging but the aging process. We’re nervous about what will happen to our body, mind, and spirit when we can ask for the senior discount at early-bird movies and four p.m. dinners. 

It doesn’t matter how old you are right now. It’s never too early to learn the truth. Because there are quite a few myths and facts about aging. Here are some of them:

Myth: Dementia is an Inevitable Part of Aging 

It’s normal to have a fear of aging. Driven by everything from personal prejudices to how the elderly are portrayed on TV and in the movies, many of us are scared. The good news is that most of our fears are unfounded. Survey respondents who were nervous about getting older said they were mainly worried about declining health. That top concern beat out worries about losing loved ones or having money problems.

The number one fear people have about aging is a decline in physical or mental abilities. Fortunately, dementia and loss of cognitive function are far less common than many believe. True, your dementia risk grows with each passing year. Still, given how often it’s mentioned in the media, you might be surprised by how rare it actually is. Two-thirds of people who are older than 85 do not have dementia. In other words, mental decline is not a normal part of the aging process. There are millions of healthy seniors in their 90s who are as sharp as they were fifty years ago. 

Despite this positive news, the World Health Organization estimates that across the globe more that 55 million people are currently living with dementia. The world’s rapidly aging population is why that number is expected to more than double –– hitting 139 million by 2050.  If you are having difficulty forming sentences, find yourself getting lost in familiar neighborhoods, or calling common objects by uncommon names, then you should see your doctor. That’s because these are some common dementia warning signs. However if you find yourself standing in your kitchen suddenly unsure about why you are there or you forget someone’s name five minutes after being introduced, it’s likely less about the aging process than just being human. Yes, short term memories are more likely to be forgotten as you age. The good news is that research has revealed numerous ways to reduce your dementia risk. 

Fact: You Can Reduce Your Risk

Diet has been linked to dementia risk, with one landmark study concluding that, “Higher adherence to a [Mediterranean Diet] was associated with lower dementia risk, independent of genetic risk, underlining the importance of diet in dementia prevention.” People on this plant-focused diet eat lots of fruits and veggies along with fish, chicken, and whole grains. They stay away from processed foods, red meat, sugar, or butter. Not only has this diet been linked to reduced risk of dementia but it has also been shown to lower your chances of getting cardiovascular disease or certain cancers. 

Diet isn’t the only way to reduce dementia risk. A JAMA study that showed declining rates of dementia in the U.S. despite an aging population, had a surprising conclusion. It suggested that, “increasing educational attainment and better control of cardiovascular risk factors may have contributed to the improvement…” As our population has become better educated, the rate of dementia has declined. Like a muscle, the brain seems to get stronger the more you use it and the more you challenge it. 

In a recent study, a group of men and women were asked how often they did “cognitively stimulating activities.” That could mean everything from reading books, newspapers, or magazines to writing letters or playing games. Following up with respondents, the researchers discovered that over the course of seven years individuals with high levels of cognitive activity developed Alzheimer’s five years later than those individuals with low levels of cognitive activity. Even accounting for everything from the respondents’ education to social activity, it was clear that those who exercised their minds developed dementia later than those who did not. 

Studies examining how an active mind can reduce dementia risk date back decades. However, far more recent technological advances in the areas of tele-health and artificial intelligence have radically transformed medicine –– including elder care. Kyla believes that “Aging is not mandatory.” By delivering personalized primary care, we can extend not only your lifespan but also your “healthspan.” That means no longer fearing the aging process because you’ll be living better longer –– and that includes mental health. By accessing a simple, $99 at-home test you can discover issues that could relate to your mental acuity like vitamin deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and low blood sugar. 

Myth: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks 

Lots of us believe think that by the time we are seniors, we’ll have learned all we can. When trying to separate myths and facts, this notion definitely falls in the “myth” column. You might think that learning new things when you’re older will be next to impossible –– and that difficulty absorbing new information is just part of the aging process. Yet study after study refutes this. 

For example, one medical study examined adults ages 58 to 86 who took three-to-five new classes over a three-month period. The study discovered that they “increased their mental abilities to the level of people 30 years younger after just a month and a half.” With the exception of learning a new language (which does seem to come easier to children), older adults are every bit as capable as those who are younger when it comes to learning new things. 

Fact: You Don’t Have to Stop Learning

The real reason many older people aren’t actively learning new information is because they aren’t trying to. A survey discovered that half of all people over 40 don’t learn something new every week! So the secret is to act like a child –– constantly learning new things, discovering the wonder of the world around us, and challenging your mental muscles. Across the world our aging population demands not only that older people learn new skills but that potential employers give them a chance. 

As reported by Inc., in just 25 years the global population of seniors will have tripled. Fortunately, older workers can not only learn new skills but they can leverage their vast experience as well. As Inc notes, start-ups run by founders in their twenties are twice as likely to fail as those run by people over the age of 50. 

In fact, even old dogs can learn new tricks. The adage about their inability was coined four centuries ago! Since then, it has been consistently proven wrong. In fact, dogs are curious creatures who usually want to please their people –– no matter their age. In fact, older dogs may make better learners because puppies are more easily distracted. So long as you adjust for any physical issues, senior dogs can pick up new tricks just fine. 

Reduced distractions also benefit older human learners. Sure, they may have more family and work responsibilities but in general older students are better at “keeping their eyes on the prize” rather than being distracted by campus socializing and extracurriculars. The exciting news is whether or not you graduated from university, you can always learn. There are growing numbers of older people attending college and even law school classes often have a student or two who is over 40. 

Myth:You’re Too Old To Start Exercising

If you’ve logged serious years as a couch potato or stationary cubicle dweller, embarking on a fitness routine seems daunting. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Exercise is vital not only for staving off dementia and depression but for reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Some avoid starting a fitness routine because they’re worried about being injured. Unfortunately, you’re more likely to accumulate injuries if you’re inactive. Instead, start small. Walk around the block or swim a few laps. And make sure to check your blood sugar, hormone levels, and other issues that could hold you back. It’s easy with a $99 at-home test from Kyla. 

Fact: You can Build Muscle at Any Age 

Strength training is not only possible for older adults, it’s recommended. Although studies have shown that muscle mass decreases by three to eight percent for every decade over the age of thirty –– and actually declines faster over the age of 60 –– this can be counteracted. Increased protein intake, weight training, and adequate rest between exercises can help you achieve a fit, toned body at any age.

There are many myths and facts about aging.  One common complaint among the elderly is how their sleep is often interrupted or abbreviated. Many report awakening before sunrise. However, sleep is vital for healthy cognitive function. It improves immune response and reduces depression risk. If you’re having trouble sleeping, it may be related to your cortisol levels. A simple needle-prick and a $99 at-home test from Kyla will tell you whether or not your cortisol is elevated –– along with numerous other health indicators.

For the most part, what was true when you were younger remains relevant. You still need adequate sleep. Physical activity is vital. You can learn and grow. You will always benefit from social activity and being part of a supportive community. The one thing that has changed is medical science. Improvements in the field of longevity mean that the length of a healthy life can be extended. Kyla’s Anti-Aging program will make recommendations to help you achieve not just a longer life, but a better one. The best part? The information provided by this risk engine is free. This includes your future health risks, approximate life expectancy, and your overall Health Score. You’ll even get a personalized list of actions you can take on a daily basis to help you achieve not only attainable fitness goals but also noticeable improvements in your physical health and mental well being. It’s an important first step toward a healthy and lengthy life. 


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“Ten Myths About Aging,” National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/healthy-aging/10-myths-about-aging