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Test Your Aging IQ

Published December 21, 2011 2:12 PM by Brian Garavaglia

There remain some common misconceptions that are associated with aging. In the following, I have provided a 10 question True or False quiz to see how you do in this area. (Answers at the bottom of the page.)  

1) There is evidence to support compounds such as anti-oxidant as being important anti-aging compounds.

2) Senescence and senility are normal processes of aging.

3) The lifespan of the human being has not changed.

4) Older adults need less sleep.

5) Personality factors change considerably in old age.

6) The highest rate of suicide in our country in found among older males.

7) A person's cognitive ability continues to decline with age, showing significant changes by 60 years of age.

8) Most older adults live within a nursing home or assisted living environment.

9) Learning new things is more difficult as we age.

10) Most older adult men and women will not experience orgasm during sexual intercourse.



1) FALSE: Although some elements such as regular exercise, diet, proper consumptions of anti-oxidants, etc, have shown some promise at enhancing longevity and health, there is nothing that is "anti-aging." In other words, there is nothing the prevents the process of aging. Most experts prefer to use, instead of the misleading anti-aging term, the term prolongevity, which implies things that can enhance your longevity.

2) FALSE: Although senescence is a normal process of aging, senility is not. Senescence refers to the normal (not disease based changes and decline) that happen with age. This is normal aging. However senility is a term that refers to disease-based changes. Diseases are disease and at any age they are not normal. Most diseases are due to the cumulative effects of lifestyle.

3) TRUE: Lifespan has not changed since modern human beings have existed. This is often mixed up and used synonymously with life expectancy. Life expectancy, or the number of years one can expect to live from the time of their birth, has increased dramatically, from approximately 47 years in 1900 to 78 years currently. Lifespan addresses the maximum number of years that the human organism can live under optimum circumstances. This has not changed. It appears that we have a programmed existence for approximately 110 to 120 years under optimal conditions. Human cells have a programmed ability to divide only a certain number of times.

4) FALSE: Although older adults often get less sleep, they still require the optimal level of sleep, approximately 7 hours each night, for a healthy lifestyle. The problem that often exists is that (a) older adults spend less time in deep sleep and therefore a more likely to wake up; (b) illnesses can often lead to more difficulty in sleeping; (c) reduced physical activity; and (d) napping during the daytime. Sleep is very important, even for older adult. In fact, poor sleep habits have been shown to increase the risk of falls among older adults.

5) FALSE: For the most part it is false. Personality is fairly stable after age 30 years. However, this is not a definitive statement. Although most of the major traits appear to be enduring into the late years, there are certain dispositional features with personality that may change as one ages. The grouchy old person was probably a grouch in their earlier years. However, they may be grouchy due to pain or discomfort as well.

6) TRUE: Older adult males, in particular older adult white males who are 80 plus years of age have the highest suicide rate in our society.

7) FALSE: There are some changes that happen quite early. For instance, what is often referred to as fluid intelligence starts to show decline as early as approximately 30 years of age. However, for other areas, such as crystallized intelligence, often based more on experience, this intelligence can remain remarkably stable in later years. Often intellectual ability overall remains fairly stable until very late life, when the individual may have severe health problems.

8) FALSE: Most older adults live independently. Only approximately 4 to 4.5% of our older adult population at any one time live with a nursing home environment. Also, a small but slightly larger number live in assisted living. However, most live independent or outside of a nursing home or assisted living environment.

9) TRUE: However, the brain still have a considerable level of "neuroplasticity." Therefore, many individuals can still learn and continue to learn. Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

10) FALSE: This one may surprise you the most since many stereotypes about older adults are directed toward sexuality. In fact, 85 percent of men and 55 percent of women over 70 years of age report they always or usually have an orgasm during sex!


all correct- Gifted older adult intellect. You are an expert in the field of older adults

8-9 correct- Pretty good. You have an above on issues related to older adults.

6-7 correct- You have an average level of older adult intelligence

4-5 correct- You are below average. You need to enhance your knowledge.

3 or less correct- Get working on correcting the problem and the misconceptions. 


posted by Brian Garavaglia


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About this Blog

    Brian Garavaglia, PhD
    Occupation: Long-term care administrator
    Setting: Sterling Heights, Mich.
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