Close your eyes and, in your mind, go back in time to when you were a child (a very young child, of course!). Picture yourself greeting your grandparents, hugging them and pulling them by the arm into the house. You remember your mother shouting, “Don’t pull. Walk slowly! Grandma can’t move as fast as you.” You remember their grunts as they settled on the sofa, the difficulty they had getting up. The little hair your grandfather had was stone grey; you loved staring at his shiny head. They had so many wrinkles you could barely see their eyes. To your eyes – and your parents – these people were old, as old as time, with their stomach problems, their bulky bodies and their lack of energy. And of course, they were old … they had to be at least 60!
Absurd, isn’t it, to think of 60 as ancient? Perhaps it was more the norm “to look your age” 40 or 60 years ago, but today “the rules” have gone out the window – practically soaring to the sky. We know more and do more to prevent aging than any other generation before us. We know that the “60” of our grandparents is a far cry from the “60” of today. But attitudes still die hard. Preconceived notions have a way of sticking. Our aging IQ changes as we get older, and we think we know better, but do we?
How good is your aging IQ? Take this brief quiz and see how many questions you answer correctly. The results may surprise you.
YOUR AGING IQ
Read these statements and mark each one true or false:
- If one of your parents have Alzheimer’s disease, the chances are good that you too will eventually get it.
- The “fear of falling” goes hand in hand with getting old – and with good reason.
- Everyone gets “senior moments,” lapses in memory that become more and more frequent as you get older.
- Sexual desire is a thing of the past once you hit 60.
- People get “crotchety” in their old age. Personalities change – for the worst.
- You sleep less in old age because you need less.
- Depression is rampant among seniors.
See the answers below to see how you did:
- False. Although scientists have discovered a variety of genes that are associated with both early and late onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the majority of people will not go on to get AD. Although it does increase your risk, Alzheimer’s is not cast in stone. Learn more about whether you should be tested for Alzheimer’s.
- True. Falls in the elderly are one of the leading reasons for disability. It is the most common cause of injury in people over 65. Vision and hearing can deteriorate, clouding perception. Dizziness and numbness in the feet can lead to poor balance. Stiff joints can affect your ability to respond to obstacles. You can avoid “pitfalls” by making your house as “fall proof” as possible. Remove stray wires and loose carpets. Keep floors clean without slippery wax. “Light up your world” with high wattage lights and night lights for those late-night trips to the bathroom. Get more tips on how recognize fall risks in your home.
- False. “Senior moments” can happen to 40-somethings and millennials. Yes, memory lapses can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, but they are usually the result of just having too much to do, depression, overwhelming stress or even a side effect of a medication you are taking.
- False. Just ask any senior! The loss of sexual desire is more the function of psychological and physical ailments. Because people in their 60s might show signs of depression, menopause or prostate enlargement, we tend to lump the symptoms all together and call it a lack of desire – when nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, as a survey conducted by the National Council on the Aging discovered, many Americans over 60 are interested in sex – and approximately one-half of those interviewed enjoy sex with a partner at least once a month. For many the main problem is the lack of a partner—not the lack of desire.
- False. There’s an old expression: “You don’t change as you age. You become more so.” In other words, except for personality changes resulting from dementia, the way you laugh, the way you speak, the essence of you, the “soul” that makes you unique, stays with you for life. Most people mellow out as the stress of work, raising a family and proving themselves are no longer a central focus of their lives.
- False. It’s not the amount of sleep that changes as you age, but the quality. Studies show that the older you are, the more your sleep is broken up. You tend to be more restless at night the older you get; you’ll take more naps during the day. You also might need to relieve yourself more frequently as you age, the result of a weakened bladder, enlarged prostate or medication.
- False. Depression affects over 25% of all Americans – of all ages. Although it can be a symptom of the hormonal changes occurring in later life, depression is not necessarily age-related: stress, illness, transitions occur throughout life. The good news is that there are a wide variety of medications and therapies available today to treat depression—and they work!
By taking the time to check your aging IQ, you’ve learned a little more about your body, mind, and the aging process. Hopefully, you’ve also put some erroneous myths to rest.
Aging is a state of mind, as this profile points out – but only up to a point. There are certain things we cannot control, certain things that will change as we grow old. But there are many things we can do to enhance the quality of our lives as we age.