Hally® Healthcast is the monthly wellness podcast from Hally® health. This month we discuss healthy aging with Faith Roberts, MSN, RN, and the Executive Director of Community Engagement at Carle in Urbana. Listen here, or read a quick summary in the article below.
Healthy Aging: Don’t Fall Victim to These Aging Myths!
Fact: we all get older. Fact: this isn’t a bad thing! Our culture is full of pessimism and false myths about aging. It’s time to bust these myths and celebrate each trip we take around the sun.
Myth #1: Aging always brings about a sharp physical and mental decline.
The human body does change as we age. However, that doesn’t always mean steep declines in our physical and mental capabilities. Staying physically active and eating well can keep our bodies healthy. And to keep our minds sharp, there are many types of activities we can do. As Faith Roberts notes, basically anything that involves mental steps. “Think of baking,” says Roberts, “You have to follow a recipe to bake. Or gardening, there are steps in gardening. [And] all of us have heard about crossword puzzles. Being more purposeful in some of your daily activities is crucial for keeping your mind sharp.”
Myth #2: It’s too late to make healthy lifestyle changes.
Are you doomed if you’ve waited decades to start exercising or quit smoking? Not in the least, notes Roberts. In fact, research has shown it only takes one month after you stop smoking for your lungs to begin significant repair. Likewise, changing your diet and getting more exercise can bring immediate benefits. As always, talk to your doctor before making any big changes to your daily routines. But the main message, according to Roberts? “For anybody willing to make a change, do it.”
Myth #3: Your genes completely define you.
Some diseases do have a familial tendency. However, that doesn’t mean you’re certain to develop these diseases if someone in your family has had them. What it does mean is you should keep an eye out for these conditions, and be proactive if possible. For example, if your family has a history of colon cancer, you should get screened for it regularly. If many family members have high blood pressure, bring this up to your doctor during your regular checkups. “Genetics are not 100%,” assures Roberts, “and there are certain things you can do to keep yourself healthy.”
Myth #4: Retirement leads to declining health.
Many people worry that once they retire, they’ll see a substantial slip in their mental and physical abilities. But just because you stop working, it doesn’t mean you have to stop living! Many retired people are actually busier than they were beforehand – and they’re doing what they want to do. As long as you make an effort to keep your mind and body active, follow your passion and you’ll notice yourself feeling strong and healthy as ever!
Myth #5: Getting older always means more pain, more illness and more suffering.
This myth is based more on old stereotypes than on 21st century realities. Medical and scientific advancements have allowed older individuals to overcome even the most debilitating physical ailments. “You can get a total knee or a total hip replacement and go home that evening,” Roberts notes. “It’s amazing the advances made in healthcare that help us to keep going and be able to have higher function than we ever thought we would.” The message is simple – don’t let outdated stereotypes make you pessimistic about adding years to your life. The glass is half full, and there’s more reason for optimism with every new scientific advancement!
Interested in learning more? Listen to the full interview above. And stay tuned for next month’s episode of the Hally Healthcast.
Want even more information? Check out these additional resources:
- Listen to this episode of Riverside Healthcare’s podcast to learn more about geriatricians and the care they give adults as they age.
- Keeping your muscles strong is important for healthy aging – read why in this blog piece from our friends at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System.
- Read about the benefits – and importance – of dementia screening in this article from the Carle Foundation.
- Learn how to watch for potential signs of Alzheimer’s on Memorial Health System’s blog.