HEALTH: 5 myths about ageing debunked

Canadians are living longer than ever before, and poor health is not an inevitable part of the ageing process. High-quality research evidence debunks many popular ageing misconceptions and changes the way we think about growing older.

Let’s take a closer look at five common ageing myths:

  1. All older adults lose their teeth.
    Canadians’ oral health is actually comparable to, or better than, the oral health of citizens in most developed countries. Also, oral health among Canadian seniors is improving. That said, things could be better. According to a Canadian Health Measures Survey, approximately 20% of Canadians aged 60-79 are ‘sans teeth’ or edentulous. Furthermore, approximately 32% of Canadians have no dental insurance and many people avoid visiting a dental professional due to concerns about cost. Good oral care and regular check-ups play an important role in maintaining good oral health among seniors.
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  2. Depression is a normal part of ageing.
    While depression is common in older adults, it is NOT a normal part of ageing. Growing older can involve many changes, including retirement, the death of loved ones, and increased medical problems. It is normal to feel sad or uneasy about these changes. However, depression is a medical condition that interferes with normal functioning. It’s important to talk about depression in older adults and break down the stigma that can be associated with depression.
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  3. Getting older inevitably leads to weakness, frailty and dependency.
    While muscle volume and strength can gradually decline with ageing, particularly beyond the age of 70, these changes can be slowed or even prevented with regular physical activity. Furthermore, despite such changes, most otherwise healthy seniors live without frailty and can remain independent in their daily activities.
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  4. Older adults should limit physical activity.
    This myth still persists among some older (and younger) people, and in some cultures. Numerous studies have proven that most conditions can be improved by some type of exercise. Importantly too, exercise has been shown to play an important role in the prevention of various illnesses.
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  5. Old age means the end of sex.
    Sexuality is a fundamental part of humanity at any age. Many older adults remain interested in sex and sexually active as long as they remain in good health. Menopause and impotence are common health conditions that can affect sexual health, but there are many treatment options for maintaining your sexual capacity.
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    Source: McMaster Optimal Ageing Portal
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