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Physical and Psychological Aspects of Aging
Stephen Truhon
Associate Professor of Psychology
Winston-Salem University


Pass out copy to students of Aging IQ (from National Institute of  Health)
What's Your Aging I Q,
(Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1991 also
see www.iupui.edu/~iucar/ageiq.html).

1. Baby boomers are the fastest growing segment of the population.
True False

2. Families don't bother with their older relatives.
T rue False

3. Everyone becomes confused or forgetful if they live long enough.
T rue False

4. You can be too old to exercise.
True False

5. Heart diseas e is a much bigger problem for older men than for older women.
True False

6. The older you get, the less you sleep.
True False

7. People shoul d watch their weight as they age.
True False

8. Most older people are depressed. Why shouldn't they be?
True False

9. There's no point in scr eening older people for cancer because they can't be treated.
True False

10. Older people take more medications than younger people.
True False

11. People begin to lose interest in sex around age 55.
True False

12. If your parents had Alzheimer's disease, you will inevitably get  it.
True Fa lse

13. Diet and exercise reduce the risk for osteoporosis.
True False

14. As your body changes with age, so does your personality.
True False

15. Older people might as well accept urinary accidents as a fact of  lif e.
True False

16. Suicide is mainly a problem for teenagers.
True Fal se

17. Falls and injuries "just happen" to older people.
True False

18. Everybody get cataracts.
True False

19. Extremes of heat  and cold can be especially dangerous for older  people.
True False

20. "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
True False

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Public Health Service
National Insti tutes of Health
October 1991



 

Get the number reporting true for each item. Then go over the correct answers and discuss the implications of each.

Aging I.Q.Answers

1. Baby boomers are the fastest growing segment of the population.
False

There are more than  3 million Americans over the age of 85. That  number is expected to quadruple by the  year  2040, when there will be more than 12 million people in that age group.  The population age 85 and older is the fastest growing age group in the U.S.

2 . Families don't bother with their older relatives.
False

Most  older people live close to their children and see them often. Many live with their spouses. An estimated 80 percent of men and 60 percent of women live in family se ttings. Only 5  percent of the older population lives in nursing homes.

3. Everyone becomes confused or forgetful if they live long enough.
False

Confusion and serious forgetfulness in old age can be caused by   Alzheimer 's disease or other conditions that result in irreversible damage to the brain. But  at least 100 other problems can bring on the same symptoms. A minor head injury, h igh fever, poor nutrition, adverse drug reactions, and  depression also can lead to c onfusion. These conditions are treatable, however, and the confusion they cause  can be eliminated. For more information, please  look at the
NIA Age Page
"Forgetfulness:
It's Not Always What You Think"

4. You can be too old to exercise.
False

Exercise at any age can help strengthen the he art and lungs and lower  blood pressure. It also can improve muscle strength, and, if carefully chosen, lessen bone loss with age. See a  physician before beginning a new  exercise program. For more information, please look at the:
NIA Age Page
"Don' t  Take It Easy-Exercise!"

5. Heart disease is a much bigger problem  for older men than for older  women.
False

The risk of heart di sease increases dramatically for women after  menopause. By age 65, both men and women have a one in three chance of showing symptoms. But risks can be significantly redu ced by following a healthy diet and exercising.

6. The older you get, the less yo u sleep.
False

In later life, it's the quality of sleep that  declines, not total  sleep time. Researchers have that sleep tends to become more fr agmented as people age. A number of reports suggest that older
people are less lik ely than younger people to stay awake throughout the day and that older people tend to take   more naps than younger people. For more information, please look at the
N IA Age Page
"A Good Night's Sleep"

7. People should watch their weight as they age.
True

Most people gain weight as they age. Because of changes in the body  and decreasing physical activity, older people usually need fewer calories. Still, a balanced diet is important.
Older people require esse ntial nutrients just like younger adults. You should be concerned about your weight if there has  been an involuntary gain or loss of 10 pounds in the past 6 months. For more information, please look at the
NIA Age Page
"Nutrition: A Lifelong Concern"

8. Most older people are depressed. Why shouldn't they be?
False

Most older people are not depressed. When it does occur, depression is  treatable throughout the life cycle using a variety of approaches, such as family s upport, psychotherapy, or  antidepressant medications. A physician can determine w hether the depression is caused by medication an older
person might be taking, by physical illness,  stress, or other factors. For more information, please look at the
NIA  Age Page
"Depression: A Serious but Treatable Illness"

9. There's no point in screening older people for cancer because they  can't be treated.
False

Many older people can beat cancer, especially if it's found early. Over  half of  all cancers occur in people 65 and  older, which means that screening for cancer in this age group is  especially important. For more information, please look at the
NIA Age  Page
"Cancer Facts for People Over 50"

10. Older people take more medications than younger  people.
True

Older people often have a combination of conditions that require  drugs. They   consume 25 percent of all medications and can have many more problems  with adverse reactions. Check with your doctor to make sure all drugs and dosages are appropriate. For more  information, please look at the
NIA Age  Page
"Medicines: Use Them Safely"

11. People begin to lose interest in sex around age 55.
False

Most older people can lead an active, satisfying sex life. For more  information, please look at the NIA Age Page
"Sexuality in Later Life"

12. If  your parents had Alzheimer's disease, you will inevitably get  it.
False

The overwhelming number of people with Alzheimer's disease have not  inherited the disorder. In a few families, scientists have seen an extremely high  incidence of the disease and have identified genes in these families which they think may be responsible.

13. Diet and exercise reduce the risk for osteoporosis.
True

Women are at particular risk for osteoporosis. They can help prevent  bone loss by eating foods rich in calcium and exercising regularly throughout life. Foods such as milk  and other dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, salmon, sardines, and tofu promote new bone growth.  Activities such as walking, biking, and simple exercises to strengthen the upper body also can be effective. For more information, please look at the
NIA Age  Page
"Osteoporosis: The Silent Bone Thinner"

14. As your body changes with age, so does your personality.
False

Research has found that, except for the changes that can result from  Alzheimer's disease and other forms  of dementia, personality  is one of the few constants of life. That is,  you are likely to age much as you've lived.

15. Older people might as well accept urinary accidents as a fact of  life.
False

Urinary incontinence is a symptom, not a disease. Usually, it is  caused by specific changes in body function  that can result from infection, diseases, pregnancy, or the use of  certain medications. A variety of treatment options are available for people who seek medical attention. For  more information, please look at the
NIA Age Page
"Urinary Incontinence"
 

16. Suicide is mainly a problem for teenagers.
False

Suicide is most prevalent among people age 65 and older. An older  person's concern with suicide should  be taken very seriously and professional help should be sought quickly.

17. Falls and injuries "just happen" to older people.
False

Falls are the most common cause of injuries among people over age 65.  But many
of these injuries, which result in broken bones, can be avoided.   Regular vision and hearing tests and good  safety habits can help prevent accide nts. Knowing whether your  medications affect balance and  coordination is also a good idea. For more information, please look at  the
NIA Age Page
"Preventing Falls and Fractures"

18. Everybody gets cataracts.
False

Not everyone gets   cataracts, although a great many older people do.  Some 18 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 74 have cataracts, while more than 40 percent of  those between  75 and 85 have the  problem. Cataracts can be treated very successfully with surgery; more  than 90 percent of people say they can see better after the procedure. F or more information, please look
at the NIA Age Page
"Aging and Your Eyes

19. Extremes of heat and cold can be especially dangerous for older people.
True

The body's thermostat tends to function less efficiently with age,  making the older person's body less able  to adapt to heat or cold. For more information, please look at these  two pages: "Hyperthermia: A Hot Weather Hazard for Older People"and
"Accidental Hypothermia: The Cold  Can Be Trouble for Older People"

20. "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
False

People at any age can learn new  information and skills. Research  indicates that older people can obtain  new skills and improve old ones, including how to ???????



Present demographic information about the aged (from U.S. Bureau of the  Census, Statistical Abstract of  the United States :1998 (118th edition). Washington, DC, 1998).
 
 

Mean Life Expectancy Born in Group
 

1996

2000

2005

2010

Males

73.0

73.0

73.5

74

Females

79.0

79.7

80.2

80.6

White Males

73.8

74.2

74.7

75.5

White Females

79.6

80.5

81.0

81.6

Black Males*

66.1

64.6

64.5

65.1

Black Females

74.2

74.7

75.0

75.5

* this is the data although it looks incorrect
Lead a discussion of this table, noting:
1) sex differences;
2) racial  differences;
and that life expectancy for black males does not change much.
 
 
 
 

Percentage of Resident Population 
Age group

1996

2000

2005

2010

2025

Younger than 5

7.3

6.9

6.7

6.7

6.7

5-13

13.0

13.1

12.5

12.0

12.1

14-17

5.7

5.7

5.9

5.7

5.3

18-24

9.4

9.6

9.9

10.1

9.1

25-34

15.3

13.6

12.7

12.9

12.9

35-44

16.3

16.3

14.7

12.9

12.7

45-54

12.2

13.5

14.5

14.6

11.0

55-64

8.1

8.7

10.4

11.9

11.8

65-74

7.0

6.6

6.4

7.1

10.6

75-84

4.3

4.5

4.5

4.3

5.8

85 and older

1.4

1.6

1.7

1.9

2.1

U.S. Population in millions 265 275 286 298 335

Lead a discussion of these data noting that:
1) percentage of children and adolescents decreases somewhat;
2) decrease in percentage of young  adults (25-44)
3) increase in the percentage of middle-age (45-64) and older (65+)  adults as baby boomers age; and
4) the proportionately strong increase  in those 85 and older, going from 1.4% in 1996 to 2.1= % in 2025.
 

Contact:
Stephen Truhon
Associate Professor of Psychology
Winston-Salem University
Winston Salem, NC
336-750-2621
truhons@wsu1.adp.wssu.edu


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