Like any form of bias, there are many false assumptions about what aging means and its effects on people.
Learn more about some of the top myths of aging.
Age-Related Memory Loss is normal
We’ve all misplaced keys, blanked on someone’s name, or forgotten a phone number. While many of us worry about dementia or Alzheimer’s, often typical forgetfulness can be confused for a more serious issue.
Myth: Aging Erases Your Libido
There is stereotype that the elderly are sexless. This stereotype is harmful because it can cause seniors to have conflicted feelings or unnecessary guilt about their sexuality, while simultaneously causing younger people to hold misconceptions about aging and the elderly. As a state of Oregon document notes: “Research has found that sexual activity and enjoyment do not decrease with age. People with physical health, a sense of well-being and a willing partner are more likely to continue sexual relations.
Why do older people fall?
Falls in older people can be catastrophic, statistics reveal. While dizziness, medication side effects, and certain health conditions like arrhythmias can contribute to falls, most falls in the past are attributed to simple “slips and trips,”. Falls are not a typical part of aging, nor should they be treated that way. There are plenty of ways to protect yourself from falling while reducing your chances of incurring a serious injury should you fall.
Aging can make us “grumpy”
Many studies have found that seniors are among the happiest age group. Happiness levels by age tend to follow a U-shaped curve, with happiness increasing after the age 40. Many believe that getting older means they need to be grumpy, but those who are happy will continue on that trajectory. Of course, one’s attitude depends on an individual’s personality, not an overall age group.
Americans Place their Older Relatives in Nursing Homes
About 1.5 million people, or 4.5% of the U.S. population over the age of 65, are living in one of 15,000 nursing homes spread across the country. On average, those nursing homes operate at about 85% capacity, so they are not overflowing.. The reality is the percentage of older Americans living in nursing homes has been decreasing over time. That has remained the case even as the retired population continues to grow. That is hardly the picture of a country dropping off its seniors at the doorsteps of nursing homes and driving away.
Aging Leads to less productivity
Although many people have retired and left the workforce, they are anything but unproductive. Older workers have a strong work ethic, and they strive to put that to use, they choose to spend their time contributing lots of hours volunteering and giving their time back to the community. A report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that 24% of senior citizens engage in volunteer work after retirement.
Assisted-Living Facilities are Regulated like Nursing Homes
While nursing homes are heavily regulated, assisted living facilities are not regulated in the same way. Because these homes are private, there isn’t much government funding except, for some, under Section 202 of the Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program. This U.S. Housing and Urban Development program finances housing for “very low-income elderly persons, including the frail elderly,” and provides rent subsidies.
Dementia is inevitable as you age
Only about 5% of seniors have been diagnosed with dementia. Memory tends to suffer as you age, but dementia or Alzheimer’s should not be the first answer. Dementia is not inevitable as you age, and science is beginning to show some preventative measures you can take earlier on in your life. Some risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity may contribute to memory loss diseases. If you take the steps to control these things, this may decrease your chances of dementia or Alzheimer’s later on.
If you need Care, you wind up in a Nursing Home
When it comes to long-term care, it seems to be consistent that just about 1 in 3 people think they will need elder or long-term care. The reality is that closer to 70% of people, over the age of 65, will need at least some form of long-term care, according to the recently published book “Navigating your Later Years for Dummies”. More often than not, seniors can get in-home care or help via an assisted living facility.
Aging Is Depressing
Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older. Contrary to the myth that aging is depressing, many studies find that seniors are among the happiest age group. Happiness levels by age follow a U-shaped curve, with self-reported levels of happiness at their lowest at age 40, but then growing thereafter. The good news is that the majority of older adults are not depressed. Some estimates of major depression in older people living in the community range from less than 1% to about 5% but rise to 13.5% in those who require home healthcare and to 11.5% in older hospital patients.