Getting older sometimes hurts — but it doesn’t have to. Some things get better beyond your 60s. When it comes to health, there are plenty of myths surrounding what will — and won’t — happen to your body. Sure, you’re more likely to have a handful of diseases. But there are no guarantees.
Here are all the aging myths you’ve likely heard of — as well as a few you haven’t. Find out why they aren’t true for everyone, and what you might be able to do to prevent them and stay healthy.
Myth No. 1: You’ll lose your appetite as you get older
- Truth: This is not a normal part of aging; it’s actually a sign something is wrong.
Appetite loss isn’t just something that happens to people as they get older. When it does, there’s usually an underlying medical reason, such as depression or cancer. It isn’t something you should accept or ignore.
If you or a family member has noticed abnormal changes in your appetite, consider making an appointment with your doctor.
Myth No. 2: Getting older kills your sex drive
- Truth: Plenty of seniors are interested — and do engage in — sexual activity.
For many older adults, intimacy doesn’t fade as the years go by. About 40% of people 65 and older reported in a survey that they were sexually active.
Similar to appetite, loss of libido isn’t a given just because you’re getting older. If you’re concerned about this, you can talk to your doctor about it. They’re here to help.
Myth No. 3: There’s no point in changing your eating habits
- Truth: Seniors who eat balanced diets develop fewer diseases later in life.
It’s never too late to modify the things you put into your body. No matter your age, eating healthy will enrich the years to come — and might even extend them.
Maintaining a balanced diet decreases your risk of developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease. These conditions become more dangerous the older you get.
Myth No. 4: It’s too dangerous to exercise
- Truth: While there are some exercises you should avoid, there are plenty left to benefit from.
Some workouts, like deadlifts and high-intensity training, aren’t safe for older adults. That doesn’t mean all exercise is off-limits.
People in their 60s can benefit significantly from activities like yoga, pilates, swimming, and even walking. Find an activity you enjoy and let it keep you healthier for many years to come.
Myth No. 5: If a family member had a health condition later in life, you will, too
- Truth: No illness is guaranteed, even if you’re genetically predisposed to it.
If your mom had heart disease, will you die from it? If your uncle had Alzheimer’s, can you expect the same thing to happen to you?
Not necessarily. Genes are only one of many risk factors for heart disease and other health issues. It’s also about the way you sleep, eat, and breathe — literally.
Myth No. 6: Your brain shrinks as you age
- Truth: Researchers believe this happens due to stress, not aging.
Technically, your brain does lose some density and mass — there’s nothing you can do about that. But it’s not necessarily because you’re getting older.
Lifestyle factors such as stress can influence your health in negative ways. Conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, for example, have been shown to contribute to brain shrinkage — not age.
Myth No. 7: Your brain stops developing when you’re young
- Truth: Adults should continue exercising their brains throughout their lives.
From the outside looking in, it can appear as though older adults don’t have as much use of their brains as they did when they were younger. This isn’t necessarily the case.
In reality, the brain continues to develop and change throughout your life. You’re never too old to start learning and creating new things.
Myth No. 8: Forgetfulness is a ‘normal’ part of aging
- Truth: Memory problems could be an early sign of dementia.
Things like multitasking and difficulty learning new things aren’t uncommon in older adults. But severe memory problems are not considered normal.
In fact, forgetfulness could be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Speak with your doctor if you’re having memory issues in your daily life.
Myth No. 9: So are aching joints
- Truth: A lack of exercise causes painful joints, but aging often doesn’t.
Many people of all ages experience chronic pain. But it isn’t a normal part of the aging process — and there are things you can do to prevent it.
Exercising is one of the best things you can do to prevent aches and pains in older age. It can also help relieve any pain you’re already experiencing.
Myth No. 10: Your bones will break more easily — and there’s nothing you can do about it
- Truth: This is completely preventable with the right lifestyle.
Conditions like osteoporosis — which can cause bone loss and increase the risk of fractures — are more common in older adults. But there’s plenty you can still do to prevent it from happening to you.
Can you guess the most effective preventative treatment? Exercise. You’re running out of reasons not to sweat, you know.
Myth No. 11: Your posture will also suffer
- Truth: This also happens due to poor lifestyle choices.
Your spine doesn’t naturally “curve” as you get older. Factors such as poor posture and diet over time usually contribute to this.
When a person’s upper back curves, it’s known as kyphosis. As you may have guessed, exercise can prevent this from happening to you.
Myth No. 12: The older you get, the lonelier you’ll become
- Truth: Loneliness is common, but it’s not guaranteed.
With age comes the loss of long-time friends and loved ones. That doesn’t mean isolation has to be a necessary — or healthy — side effect.
Loneliness can contribute to a number of chronic health conditions such as dementia and mental health issues. Do your best to get involved in community activities, or keep in touch with family and friends even if they aren’t nearby.
Myth No. 13: All older adults are unhappy
- Truth: Many older adults deal with depression, but not all older adults are unhappy.
Getting old doesn’t make most people cranky and unreasonable. If your mood changes, it’s possible there’s a logical underlying cause that can be treated.
About 2 million people 65 and older — that we know of — live with depression. If you’re feeling depressed, don’t write it off as something that just “happens” to older people. Talk to someone who can help.
Myth No. 14: Older people are less creative
- Truth: Many retired adults have more free time to exercise their creativity.
It’s true that older brains don’t always look the same as younger ones. That doesn’t have anything to do with creativity.
In fact, the more you exercise your brain, the healthier it may remain. Try these mental exercises to keep your mind sharp and prevent disease.
Myth No. 15: Only your genes can predict how healthy you’ll be as you age
- Truth: Good genes don’t guarantee you’ll be disease-free in your 60s and beyond.
Some people have “good” genes. They aren’t predisposed to disease any more than the average adult. This doesn’t mean they’re immune to illness.
Lifestyle behaviors such as diet and exercise matter — even as you get older. The best way to prevent disease is to take care of yourself. You’ll enjoy your future much more if you’re healthy enough to fully experience all it has to offer you.