If there is one thing that is true in this world, it is that time stops for no one. Whether we want it to or not, the hours and days carry on, and as it does so, we grow older. Aging is all a part of life and is a very natural thing. However, it is important to take some time to explore some misconceptions or myths about aging. Negative stereotypes certainly exist out there, and today, we want to break those down.
While your first thought might be to immediately type ‘retirement communities near me’ into your browser right away and look at options in your area, let us examine understanding aging first, and just what growing older looks like.
Did you know that every day in the United States, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65? This means that by the year 2029, those aged 65 or older will make up for about 20% of the population. This is a pretty drastic change when you consider the fact that in 2012, only 14% of the population was 65 or over. This is certainly a significant shift!
When you think about an older person, what do you think of? Do you see a stereotypical image of someone napping on the couch or a rocking chair? What about mental health? Do you automatically presume that aging automatically means developing memory loss issues, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia? While yes, it is certainly possible, there is also a lot more to aging that you maybe hadn’t considered before.
For example, there is no typical ‘older’ personality. According to psychologists, the majority of our personalities are developed within the first six months of our lives. Granted, outside factors and various stages of life can influence our personality, but they are mostly intact by the time we reach six months old. Keeping that in mind will give you a better understanding of busting down the following myths.
Myth #1: Older people have zero interest in the outside world.
One of the first stereotypes that people are quick to assign to older folks is the idea that they are technology illiterate or just plain don’t like the idea of using computers or the internet. While there may exist some gaps in knowledge with certain technological concepts, people aged 65 or older do actually enjoy using the internet. As a matter of fact, over 100,000 people aged 50 or older participate in the non-profit Road Scholar learning program each year that focuses on learning about various cultures across the world. That’s an impressive number! If you’re still not convinced, try asking your senior parent if they have a TikTok account – you might be surprised!
Myth #2: Older people prefer to be alone.
Not only is this untrue, but this way of thinking is actually extremely dangerous! Senior isolation is especially draining on one’s well-being, leading to the deterioration of not only physical health, but mental health as well. Just like anyone else, seniors need to be a part of thriving and active social circles. This could be friends around their same age, or even their family members. When Googling ‘retirement communities near me’, be sure to pay attention to what senior living facilities have to offer, especially in the realm of social activities.
Myth #3: Older people don’t contribute much to society.
With age comes experience, and as we all know, experience is invaluable. People over the age of 50 bring a lot of knowledge and skill to their homes, workforce, and communities. Many volunteer to tutor, assist foster children, work as ‘candy stripers’ at local hospitals, or even actively participate with non-profit organizations such as Meals on Wheels or Habitat for Humanity. They serve as model citizens for the younger generations, and pass down stories about culture and heritage that might otherwise be forgotten.
Myth #4: As people age, they just get more stubborn.
Those aged 65 or older have lived through some very critical, and often dark, times in history. They have survived, and maybe even fought in, several wars and international conflicts, helped implement mass change, such as the Civil Rights Movement, and probably even watched the Space Race occur. And that is only barely scratching the surface! Older people have great mental resilience, and can look at adversity and hardship and know how to handle it. They aren’t just ‘stubborn’ or ‘set in their ways’. In fact, they’ve been flexible since before most of us were born!
Myth #5: Seniors tend to have a diminished mental and physical state.
While yes, getting older does come with a few downfalls, such as slowing down just a bit, there is much to be done that can help ease these symptoms. There are healthy habits that work to combat the deterioration of our stem cells, allowing us to maintain peak physical form as long as possible. Here are a few habit that seniors can try:
Go on regular walks around the neighborhood with a friend or family member, or maybe even your furry best friend. Not only is this great for lung and heart health, but will boost mental health as well.
This activity does wonders to help bolster muscle strength and retain bone density. You don’t have to lift like you’re training for the next Iron Man competition, but even lifting 10-15 lbs on a regular basis will keep your body strong.
Don’t just hit the gym, give your brain a workout, too! Play games such as chess or Sudoku, put together jigsaw puzzles, and try to solve brain teasers or crosswords. These activities are usually very fun and can help keep your brain sharp as well.
Aging is inevitable, but it can be something fun and exciting! With each new year on the calendar, we are making way for fresh experiences and the opportunity to make new memories while we’re at it. While aging does come with concerns and challenges, maintaining a positive disposition and doing our best to stay active and involved can help to curb some of these issues. After all, these aren’t called the ‘golden years’ for nothing!