Dreading the aging process?
Aging is certainly not glamorized in the media and there’s even some ageism ingrained in our pop culture, so don’t fret if you are indeed afraid… you’re not alone.
But some of the fear can stem from myths and misbeliefs that could be holding you back from living out your full potential. That’s why I’ve pulled together these four hidden truths about aging – to help you overcome the misconceptions that may lead to self-limiting beliefs, and ultimately, aging poorly.
Hidden Truth #1: Your retirement years are more than just leisure
The old way of looking at our life cycle is in three clean stages, where we:
- Start off with education
- Cater to work and family needs for the bulk of our adult lives
- End the last couple decades with nothing but easy peasy leisure
This is so not the case.
The modern way of looking at our lifespan map is much more dynamic and intermingled between the three stages.
Age Wave’s Dr. Ken Dychtwald describes the new cyclical life paradigm as “life in which education, work and leisure and interspersed repeatedly throughout the life span.” He believes the new normal will include things like:
- 50-year-olds going back to school
- 60-year-olds falling in love
- 70- and 80-year-olds reinventing themselves through new careers
And life expectancy is growing beyond 90+ years, which means seniors are needing not only more financial coverage but also interesting and meaningful things to fill their time. It’s no wonder there are studies that show seniors are craving more adventure, growth and lifelong learning… even if it translates to working.
Some seniors work because they have to and other work because they want to. Whether you’re interested in participating in the workforce or not, here are some interesting tidbits:
- A study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave reported 72% of pre-retirees would like to keep working in retirement and saw retirement as a way to transition into another type of work.
- Another study out of Oregon State found that seniors who worked beyond retirement age lived longer
- Lifelong learning is good for your health especially your brain plasticity
- Being active, social and engaged are integral to your mental, physical and emotional health
Hidden Truth #2: Depression, loneliness and dementia are not part of the normal aging process
Things like eye trouble, hearing loss, high blood pressure and decrease in mobility are all part of the normal aging process.
Even memory loss and decrease in mental endurance are on the list – however, there’s a big difference between misplacing your keys and finding them in the fridge.
Here are the elements included in the normal aging process (depression, loneliness and dementia are not on this list):
While there are increasingly scary stats that tell us depression, loneliness and Alzheimer’s are on the rise, these factors are not part of your genetic makeup.
And there are proactive measures you can take that are in your control, tactics and steps that you can hack away at to improve your longevity. Being social, active, fulfilled and fully engaged, well into your senior years, will certainly help you live intentionally and stave off the terrible ailments on the rise.
Hidden Truth #3: You need to learn new things as you age
This goes hand in hand with hidden truth #1, where lifelong learning is a modern way of life and a must for seniors who want to age successfully.
You can create new neural pathways until the day you die, which means your brain is designed to grow just like your hair and nails are designed to grow. You’re made to have new experiences throughout your whole life and just like your other muscles the “use it or lose it” principle applies to your brain plasticity.
And simply taking memory training isn’t going to cut it.
Building up your neuroplasticity requires more than just mind games and puzzles. A study by researcher Kara Blacker found that when it comes to brain training, high-level thinking is critical and can change your brain activity to improve your memory.
Hidden Truth #4: The way you age is not dependent on your genes
According to the World Health Organization, only 25% of your longevity depends on your genetics, while the other 75% is completely in your control and dependent on external and environmental factors.
This means you have a huge opportunity to impact your aging your process. By focusing on your lifestyle, environment and your behaviors, you have a much better chance at aging successfully and reaching your dreams and goals.
There are incremental micro-steps that you can accomplish daily, which will help you not only create new good habits but also rewire your brain, so you can tackle your life dreams, big and small.
Tip: Start your day with the right morning routine. Your mood in the morning dictates how productive your will be, and you have the most willpower in the morning.
Bonus Tip: Practice mindfulness in your morning routine. Things like keeping a gratitude journal, meditation or exercising can be super beneficial for creating an intentional day ahead.
Which hidden truths have been holding you back? How will you go about shifting your mindset and behaviors so that you can age successfully?