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Aging Mythbusters


You still need 7–8 hours of sleep everyday.

It just may be harder to get! With aging, it can take you a little longer to fall asleep and your level of sleep may be lighter. Medical and/or psychological conditions may wake you up at night, after which it can be harder to fall back to sleep. 

Bed rest is good...for dead people.

Though there are a few exceptions, bed rest is not good for you. The less you move and the more you stay in bed, the more deconditioned and dehydrated your body will become. This is especially true if you’re in the hospital. Loss of muscle strength happens quickly, while rebuilding it can take a long time.  

Hiking with Poles
Romantic Couple

You still need to worry about safe sex.

Sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, are becoming more common in the older population. Chlamydia infections among Americans aged 65 and over increased by 31 percent, and syphilis by 52 percent between 2007 and 2011. Attention to safe sex, which includes the use of condoms, remains vital as you age, especially in non-monagamous relationships. You are never too old to be at risk.

There IS a magic bullet. It's called exercise!

It’s never too late to start exercising. Physical activity helps cognition, strength, endurance, and much more. Even 90-year-olds can benefit from resistance training.

Senior Swimmer
Active Senior Couple

No pain, no gain no longer applies.

You don’t need to feel pain to build strength. Studies show there's a similar gain in muscle strength and size (with fewer injuries) when you use a weight that is tolerable (not the heaviest you can lift) and raise it repeatedly until your muscles feel tired. Once this gets easier,  increase the weight or the number of repetitions.

You CAN make new friends.

Getting older doesn't mean you should isolate yourself. Frequent participation in meaningful activities and relationships decreases loneliness and increases life satisfaction. Do things you enjoy and try to make some new friends.

Senior Book Club
Medicine Prescription

Newer isn't necessarily better.

Newly approved medications can cause unanticipated problems in older people because there are usually few older people in the trials that show the drug’s effectiveness. This is particularly true for those who are frail or have multiple medical conditions. New medications are also often more expensive than those that are time-proven. If your medical provider or an advertisement suggests you try a new medication, ask why it’s better than the tried and true.

Some unprotected sun exposure is beneficial.

Yes, sun causes skin cancer. But sun exposure can improve your mood, sleep quality, and bone density (by increasing vitamin D levels). Don't go out at the height of the day's sun, and if you’re going to be in direct sunlight for longer than 15 minutes, put on sunscreen and wear sunglasses.

Enjoying the View
Seniors Socializing

Question authority.

When your medical providers suggest tests or treatments, make sure they’ve considered your life expectancy, functional abilities, and preferences. Ask if the dosage and medication are right for someone your age. Be part of the discussion. Remember: Nothing about me without me!

Naming your health care proxy is necessary, but not enough.

You may think that you’ve done your duty to you identify someone who will make medical decisions for you should you become incapacitated. But you’re asking your proxy to act FOR you, to do what they think YOU would want done in a given situation. It’s a real burden if they have no idea what your wishes are. So have the conversation. There are websites that can help you think this through, including:

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