Five Brutal Truths about Getting Old That Few People Are Willing to Admit

1. There are great disparities in how people experience getting old.

In nearly every study, researchers find differences in health, quality of life, and various measures between different socioeconomic groups, races, genders, education levels, etc. Though you can’t control many of these, resources and social support networks are two of the biggest factors in one’s experience of getting old. By planning ahead and staying connected with a support network, you will likely have a much more positive experience as you age. Additionally, each group also has wide individual disparities within it, so you can do many things to influence your personal health and wellbeing in old age.

What can you do to be on the “winning side” of getting old?

Learn what’s available (and what’s not). Understand the implications behind various decisions, such as state residency and financial and estate plans. Planning now ensures you have greater resources and support later. Contact our experts to schedule a consultation.

2. You can’t count on anyone to take care of you.

This may sound harsh. And, we don’t mean to minimize the amazing support families provide to older loved ones. In fact, families provide some 80% of eldercare at home. The value of services provided by informal caregivers has steadily increased over the last decade, with an estimated economic value of $470 billion in 2013. This unpaid caregiving exceeded the value of paid home care and total Medicaid spending in the same year.

What can I do?

Get a comprehensive assessment so you’ll know what you might need and what your options are. Have honest conversations with family members. Don’t assume; talk about it. And, do not ask your kids to make promises they might not be able to keep.

3. Getting old means you will lose physical strength, flexibility and balance.

The aging process brings losses in muscle and bone mass and muscle strength decline after age 30. That’s right, age 30! Those changes are pretty small from 30–50, though. We experience pronounced changes after 50, with a 15% average strength loss per decade.

How can I make changes now to improve my fitness as I get older?

Read our post “It’s Never Too Late to Get Started with a Healthy Lifestyle” for motivation, practical tips and links to articles and resources.

4. It is likely you will rely on multiple medications and spend a lot of time dealing with medical issues.

80% of people over 65 take at least two prescription drugs. Over 50% take four or more. Unfortunately, while medications help in many cases, this can also lead to interactions, side effects and misuse. More than 125,000 people die every year from failing to take their medications properly. Nearly a quarter of elders admitted to nursing homes have problems managing their medications.

How can you take control of your medical situation as you’re getting old to avoid these pitfalls?

Get your medical records and health history organized (we can help!).

5. Getting old means you will need help.

The lifetime probability of becoming disabled in at least two activities of daily living or of being cognitively impaired is 68% for people age 65 and older. The probability increases with each year. Memory impairment affects about 32% of those aged 85+. And, about 35% of people will eventually enter a nursing home.

How can I stay in control as I get older?

Even though it’s likely you’ll need help at some point, you can take control. Planning ahead gives you options.