There are many myths around aging, and older people often face stereotypes related to their age. Most of these myths are just that, myths. Aging is quite different from the common stereotypes.
Myth 1: Aging is depressing.
Many people assume depression goes along with aging. There are a wide variety of studies showing seniors are happier than other age groups. This common misconception leads to the idea that seniors are grumpy, but as with most other human characteristics, it all depends on the individual. People who are unhappy in their younger years will likely continue to be the same throughout their later years just as happier individuals will continue to be happy as they age. Remember, attitudes come down to personalities, not ages.
Myth 2: Aging leads to loneliness.
Social isolation can be an issue for seniors, especially those with limited mobility, lack of transportation or those recently widowed, but in general, loneliness isn’t as common as you’d think. There are many activities seniors can take part in to continue an active social life while aging, and even more so in some cases with more free time in retirement. Providing support as a family or friend is an important part of helping your aging loved ones remain socially engaged.
Myth 3: Aging makes you unproductive.
While people often retire out of the workforce as they age, that doesn’t mean they are unproductive or inactive. Many seniors play active roles in volunteer and community organizations. Others help with childminding for other family members or friends or take on hobbies to stay busy. These activities can quickly become a full-time commitment and, combined, can be almost as much commitment as a full-time job.
Myth 4: Aging dulls your wits and causes dementia.
While aging can cause cognitive changes, they are not always negative. Many older people perform better in certain areas than previously. While dementia often occurs in older people, age is not the only factor involved. Many people age gracefully and do not experience any symptoms of dementia right until the day they pass on. It’s important to recognize that genetics and other factors contribute significantly to whether someone suffers from dementia or not.
Myth 5: Aging makes it difficult to adapt to new situations.
Change is hard, but that is no more true for someone in their 80’s than their 20’s. While flexibility is often sited as a reason youth adapts to change, the experience that older people bring to a changing world is invaluable. Change is a constant in life and always has been. Older people have been adapting to change their whole lives.
What are some common aging myths you have heard and how much merit do you believe they have?