Test Your Aging IQ

Test your knowledge about aging by taking the following true or false questionnaire developed by the National Institute on Aging.

True or False?

1. Families don't bother with their older relatives.

2. Everyone becomes confused or forgetful if they live long enough.

3. You can be too old to exercise.

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

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

6. People begin to lose interest in sex around age 55.

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

8. Diet and exercise reduce the risk for osteoporosis.

9. Suicide is mainly a problem for teenagers.

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


1. 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 settings. Only 5 percent of the older population lives in nursing homes.

2. 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, high fever, poor nutrition, adverse drug reactions, and depression also can lead to confusion. These conditions are treatable, however, and the confusion they cause can be eliminated.

3. False. Exercise at any age can help strengthen the heart and lungs and lower blood pressure. It also can improve muscle strength and, if carefully chosen, lessen bone loss with age. See a physician, however, before beginning a new exercise program.

4. False. The risk of heart disease 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 reduced by following a healthy diet and exercising.

5. 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 support, psychotherapy, or antidepressant medications. A physician can determine whether the depression is caused by medication an older person might be taking, by physical illness, stress, or other factors.

6. False. Most older people can lead an active, satisfying sex life.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.


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