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Mount Sinai’s Dr. Samir Sinha shares 10 Myths and Realities about Aging

While aging is a fact of life, Mount Sinai’s Dr. Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics and Provincial Lead, Ontario’s Seniors Strategy, would like to dispel some common myths about aging.

“While many of us don’t want to admit it, aging is a fact of life that beings at birth. How we age is impacted by a number of factors such as biology, physiology and our social circumstances and varies from person to person.”
- Dr. Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital and Provincial Lead, Ontario’s Seniors Strategy

Dr. Samir Sinha talks to Mr. W, one of his house calls patients who lives independently at age 103

Dr. Samir Sinha talks to Mr. W, one of his house calls patients who lives independently at age 103

Myth vs. Reality: The majority of people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease?

Answer: Myth – Less than 10% of adults over age 65 suffer from dementia, although the chance we might have a dementia increases as we age.

Myth vs. Reality: It is very difficult for older adults to learn new things.

Answer: Myth – While it may take an older adult longer to learn something than a younger person, older adults are very capable of learning new things.

Myth vs. Reality: Memory loss is a normal part of aging.

Answer: Reality – While some memory loss is a normal part of aging, dementia is not. An older person’s short-term memory is usually impacted more than their long-term memory.

Myth vs. Reality: Depression occurs more frequently in older adults than in young adults.

Answer: Myth – Approximately 10% of the population across all ages suffers from depression.

Myth vs. Reality: A person’s risk of developing high blood pressure increases with age.

Answer: Reality – As someone ages, their blood vessels get built up with  cholesterol and calcium called ‘plaque’, making the vessels harder which make our heart work harder to raise our blood pressure to pump blood around the body.

Myth vs. Reality: As people live longer, they in fact suffer less from acute health conditions.

Answer: Reality – Older adults tend to suffer from more chronic health conditions, which can flare up in acute ways, resulting in doctor and hospital visits.

Myth vs. Reality: Older adults are less anxious about death than are younger adults.

Answer: Reality – Older adults tend to be less anxious about death because they feel like they have lived a long life and have accomplished many things.

Myth vs. Reality: Most older people are living in nursing homes.

Answer: Myth – Only about 5% of older people will ever live in long-term care homes, the rest will live in retirement homes or in their own homes.

Myth vs. Reality: People 65 years of age and older currently make up about 25% of the Canadian population.

Answer: Myth - Today, older adults represent about 15% of our population but their numbers are expected to double in numbers over the next 20 years.

Myth vs. Reality:  Personality changes with age.

Answer: Myth – Some personality traits may become more pronounced (i.e. if someone was stubborn as a child, they might be more stubborn as an older adult) but our personality doesn’t fundamentally change as we age.

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