Myths About Aging

National Insitute on Aging (NIA)

A person’s chance of having Alzheimer’s disease may be higher if he or she has a family history of dementia because there are some genes that we know increase risk. However, having a parent with Alzheimer’s does not necessarily mean that someone will develop the disease. Learn about your family health history and talk with your doctor about your concerns.

Environmental and lifestyle factors, such as exercise, diet, exposure to pollutants, and smoking also may affect a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s. While you cannot control the genes you inherited, you can take steps to stay healthy as you age, such as getting regular exercise, controlling high blood pressure, and not smoking.

As the U.S. population ages, the number of licensed older adults on the road will continue to increase. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recorded a record-high 221.7 million licensed drivers in the U.S. in 2016, including 41.7 million — or almost one in five — who are 65 years or older.

Natural changes can occur with age that may affect a person’s ability to drive, like having slower response speed, diminished vision or hearing, and reduced strength or mobility. The question of when it is time to limit or stop driving should not be about age, rather, it should be about one’s ability to drive safely. These questions may help you determine if you or a loved one needs to limit or stop driving. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns about your health and driving.

Although osteoporosis is more common in women, this disease still affects many men and could be underdiagnosed. While men may not be as likely to have osteoporosis because they start with more bone density than women, one in five men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture. By age 65 or 70, men and women lose bone mass at the same rate.

Many of the things that put men at risk are the same as those for women, including family history, not enough calcium or vitamin D, and too little exercise. Low levels of testosterone, too much alcohol, taking certain drugs, and smoking are other risk factors.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you have been smoking, quitting at any time improves your health. Smokers who quit have fewer illnesses such as colds and the flu, lower rates of bronchitis and pneumonia, and an overall better feeling of well-being.

The benefits of quitting are almost immediate. Within a few hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood begins to decline and, in a few weeks, your circulation improves, and your lung function increases. Smoking causes an immediate and long term rise in your heart rate and blood pressure, but quitting can lead to a lowering of heart rate and blood pressure over time. Quitting smoking will also lower your risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, and lung disease. Quitting will also reduce secondhand smoke exposure to other family members or caregivers in the home. It is never too late to reap the benefits of quitting smoking and setting a healthy example for your children and grandchildren.

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