There are few medical certainties in life, but one that we can all be sure of is that from the moment we enter this world to the moment we leave it, we are getting older. There is, literally, no stopping the ageing process because it is a reality of linear time. However, to listen to some people, you could easily end up thinking that stopping the process was a desirable and potentially even achievable goal.
The truth of the matter is that we are all getting older, and we are changing as time passes. One day, we won’t be here anymore. However, the reasons that people from 15 to 50 and beyond fear ageing have less to do with the inevitability of eventual death, and more to do with what they assume will happen before they get there. As we will see below, however, many of the standard assumptions just aren’t true.
We DON’T all lose our memory as we get older
f there is one thing, one condition that people routinely associated with the ageing process, it would surely be dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, those two terms are not exactly interchangeable. Dementia is a collection of symptoms with many potential causes, one of which is Alzheimer’s disease, itself associated with ageing. It is not, however, a guaranteed element of ageing. In fact, even over the age of 80, only one in six people are diagnosed with dementia of any cause. You could be forgiven for thinking differently, though, based on TV portrayals.
We DON’T die of old age
The commonly accepted narrative when someone over the age of 80 passes away is that, after a long life, they simply died of old age. Medically, however, this is not even remotely true. There is no age at which we all simply expire, and everyone dies from something. It’s not even categorically true that our health will fail as we get older. It’s true that we will experience some wear and tear, but the simple reason people tend to die at an older age is that we all get ill enough to die at some point - and the longer you’re alive, the more likely that point will arrive.
We DON’T all become set in our ways and cease to grow
The impression that you are destined to live long enough to become “out of touch” is not borne out by any scientific reasoning. Plenty of octo- and nonagenarians hold conversations with their live-in-care assistants without losing track of how young people live these days. The saying goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that’s objectively untrue. If you want to, you can learn another language, take up an instrument, or read philosophy even if you’ve never tried these before. In fact, they are seen as excellent ways to keep cognitive issues (such as dementia) at bay.
As we age, certain things are expected of us, and we come to expect them of ourselves. The reality, though, is that you can age precisely in the way you wish to - and that few of the things we associate with old age are in any way preordained.
Food & Health Writer
Presenter on Early Years TV Food