Too many of us believe the illusion that growing old means living in a nursing home, losing one's mental acuity, or abandoning activities that gave pleasure throughout a lifetime.
Contrary to widespread belief, only 5% of the population will end up in nursing homes. The majority of elders remain in their own homes. Most are able to maintain themselves, occasionally needing help when doing things such as shopping or preparing food.
Statistics also indicate that healthy older adults can learn anything that a younger person can. The main difference is in learning style. While children can absorb all kinds of information at the same time, older people learn best when they're focused and are interested in the subject.
Finally, there is no need to abandon enjoyable activities; most can be pursued at any age. In fact, almost every older adults did some kind of exercise, read extensively, and kept up with the news.
Physical activity helps facilitates healthy aging. A woman in her nineties explains: "I walk at least a mile a day, usually two. When it rains, I walk in my apartment corridor." Mental stimulation is important too. Old age can be the time to do things one never had time for when busy with raising a family or making a living.
Finally there's a need for emotional support. Relationships with others help elders remain engaged with the world around them and with life itself.
Adapted from Healthy Aging, Dr. Marge Blaine