Myths and Common Misconceptions about Ageing
Many of us fear getting old when we are young. But many of us have no idea how ageing feels.
But as every wise person knows, fear comes from our inability to understand the unknown.
We fear getting older because there are many false beliefs about ageing and inaccurate stereotypes of older adults. Naturally, these misconceptions prevent us from comprehending the concept of ageing correctly.
Sooner or later, we have to clarify what being a senior is really like since sooner or later, all of us will become one.
In today’s article, we will go over the most famous myths about ageing and reveal the truth behind them. Read on to learn how getting older can differ from what you expected.
10 Myths about Ageing That Are Totally Untrue
From grey hair to lack of sleep, there are assumptions about ageing and getting older that have no solid evidence.
Because that is what myths are: exaggerated, fictitious beliefs that misrepresent the truth.
The following are the most famous misbeliefs and wrong assumptions about the older generation.
1. Being Lonely and Depressed Is a Part of Ageing.
There is no good reason why loneliness, isolation, and the consequent depression must be associated with older age.
Do you become incapable of making friends and socializing after a certain age? Of course not.
This myth comes from the fact that some older adults get detached from the outside world and prefer to be on their own.
Not everyone becomes grumpy and lonely like Scrooge when they get older. Many of us turn into inspiring, cheerful seniors who enjoy the company of friends and loved ones.
Saying you get lonely and depressed as you age is like saying you will catch a virus after 40. It does not make sense, is not a common thing, and is totally untrue.
We have to realize that depression is every generation’s problem. If anything, it is a less common problem among older people than among younger people, according to a 2005 study.
2. Dementia Is Inevitable for Seniors.
Another disease associated with old age is dementia, and far more common, Alzheimer’s.
True, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia increases with age. But it does not mean that every single person above 60 years old will suffer from them.
There is nothing unusual about forgetting where you put things or forgetting dates. But suppose the occasional forgetfulness turns into something more frequent and severe. In that case, the best thing you can do is speak to your doctor.
3. With Ageing Comes Illness.
Unfortunately, seniors are often stereotyped as weak, ill and helpless in society.
We do not deny the conditions that might come with ageing, but this stereotype is not as common as people think.
Anybody can become ill, and, indeed, seniors are more at risk for certain conditions after a certain age. But associating older age with various kinds of physical and mental illness is wrong.
Arthritis, osteoporosis, heart problems, and other health conditions, while riskier for seniors, are universal problems for anyone.
4. Exercise Is Dangerous for Seniors
Some forms of exercise are dangerous for seniors.
Apart from the high-intensity plans that will push you over the limit and harm your body, it is essential to exercise regularly to stay healthy.
Exercising puts you in good health, mentally and physically. And it is beneficial for anyone.
Even if you have a special condition, like mobility issues, you can benefit from seated exercises for seniors.
5. Seniors Do Not Require As Much Sleep
This assumption is only partly true because older adults will need 30-60 less sleep than younger people.
Still, we need to get 6 to 7 hours of sleep at any age.
This myth is probably out there because older adults are more likely to encounter sleep disorders. While some seniors struggle with getting adequate quality sleep, they still need rest and sleep as much as any of us.
6. It Is Inevitable for Seniors to Gain Weight.
Again, we have a false belief triggered by a partly fact.
With age, our metabolism slows down, and our body will take longer to burn calories.
Does that mean all hope is lost and we are all will become overweight by ageing? No.
We only have to take better care of our bodies and adjust our routine to stay in shape because of this fact.
Weight gain should not concern those who follow the proper diets for seniors and exercise enough.
7. It Is Too Late to Learn Anything New After Reaching a Certain Age.
This one is probably the most inaccurate of all the myths and misunderstandings.
The truth is, it is never too late to pursue a lifelong passion or a fun hobby.
You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks. But even an “old” human can learn many new things with enough determination and hard work.
8. Seniors Are Cranky and Inflexible
It’s hard to explain why people think seniors are complaining and cranky.
Perhaps they think that because seniors have led a life with certain beliefs, their mindset is fixed and cannot be changed easily.
When you think about it, seniors have a lot of things that need their adaptability. Changes in the modern world, retirement, illness, disease, the possibility of losing a loved one, and lifestyle changes all affect them. They could not adjust to these changes without the ability to accept change.
True, seniors may take longer to adapt to specific changes than younger people, but that does not mean they are not open to improvement and change.
9. Romance and Intimacy Have No Place in the Lives of Older Adults.
There are a lot of cute and popular romantic comedies which show us the beautiful side of love. But perhaps that is the problem. Because after a while, whenever we think of love, we probably imagine two young and attractive people falling in love together and spending their time finding happily ever after.
The same thing is true for intimacy and sex. For some reason, many people assume that sexual tension and attraction only occur between two young people.
The real world is not as cinematic as the movies. But that’s the beauty of it because every two mature people can fall in love and enjoy being with each other in this world.
As we age, there may be some health conditions, physically or mentally, that may pose a risk at times of vigorous cardiovascular activity. However, this is hardly a reason to restrict a person’s sexual activity.
While discussing sexual issues with your doctors may be uncomfortable, they can offer treatments or help you find safe and easy ways to have a sexual relationship.
10. Seniors Do Not Contribute Much to Society.
The other false stereotype is that seniors are not as productive or capable as younger people.
The majority of society thinks productivity is associated with employment and earning money. While on the contrary, many seniors have the opportunity to explore their creativity once they have retired. As a result, they will have time to participate in volunteering activities or start new businesses.
Age does not stop anyone from making a change or growing. Many seniors lead productive and helpful lives through the end. Without their creativity, wisdom, and experience, society would be at a loss.
Accepting these stereotypes and judging seniors based on them is a form of ageism. And when you consider the effects of ageism on seniors, you should realize how important it is to open our eyes and minds and view them as they are, not as society dictates them.
There are many false beliefs and misconceptions regarding ageing. Still, suppose the members of society try their best to stay educated and understanding. In that case, it will make life easier for everyone, regardless of age.
They say the older, the wiser, which is not always true, is it?!
The older I get, the more I realize that age doesn’t bring wisdom. It only brings exhaustion. Anyone old isn’t smarter than they were 30 years ago just because of their age. Seniors just grow tired of pretending and keeping at ‘a persona’. They are over juggling lies and hiding fears. Being self-aware doesn’t end indiscretions; exhaustion does. I also hate it when people try to force youngsters to respect the elderly just because of their age. I mean, let them decide if it’s necessary or not.
What you’re saying makes sense to me, but I don’t find it disrespectful. Instead, it may be referring to the experiences we’ve gained over the years. 70 years of experience is definitely much more than 20 years!
I am 58, and it has hit me by surprise. I still have friends from high school and still have some of my old habits. One thing that I didn’t expect was to retain so much of the past in my present-day today. However, what has pleasantly surprised me is how wrong the thought process is in general about older people.
Personally, I have become more tolerant of the ideas and conceptions of other people as well as myself. I remember “going out of my skin” with a desire to “be out there” when I was younger. I don’t anymore.
One aging misconception I hate is the phrase “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.”
We believed seniors could not learn new things.
They stuck to their ways in everything they did. I mean everything, including from what to eat and what to wear. Examples were prevalent growing up, and to this day, I will run out of fingers on my hands to count. Now that I am older myself, I see that the earlier phrase is incorrect. You can actually continue to learn at any age. Those people just gave up on the status quo….
One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that you will need close to the same amount of income in retirement as you had while working to maintain the same quality lifestyle!
That is just not true.
You can live much simpler yet as well as when working for much less money!
I don’t need a gigantic house in a demanding school district. I don’t need a newer $40K car, do I?!
I travel extensively! But only if I get a great bargain price! Right now, I’m in a very nice one-bedroom apartment and couldn’t be happier.
I understand what I’m about to say may not be true for all people, and I’m not trying to generalize anything here,
But, defining “myth” to mean “false belief,” I believe the biggest one is that old people do not have sex, do not need sex or are above such needs. It would be a waste if those fifty years of experience came to nothing, which is to say, smart people use and try what they have gathered through the years. Sex gets better, I believe. And with the advent of Viagra, the false belief has simply become falser.
To everyone struggling with these non-sense myths: Consider reading Great Myths of Aging by Joan T. Erber
Wow! Nila, after seeing your comment, I searched for the book and could provide a PDF. It’s amazing! Thanks for this great suggestion.
I had a strange neighbour who strongly believed older adults couldn’t learn new things, create new memories, and improve their performance in various skills!!!!! I don’t know if he still thinks the same, but these are all total myths that can simply destroy us! Please stop repeating and believing in these absurd myths.
When I was a kid, my friend at school told me that someday my parents were going to forget that I was their son as they got older. I remember I got so sad that when I went home, I told my mom about how I will never leave school and how I’ll find a way to stop her from “losing her mind.”
Everyone laughed until my grandpa asked me why I’d say such a thing. That’s when I realized how wrong my friend was. I didn’t know some people still believe that Alzheimer’s and dementia are inevitable for seniors.
I have visited France several times, making me fall in love with the culture. I am in my 60s, but back in college, I had a French course whose teacher made me dislike the language. I haven’t thought about giving the French language another shot until a few weeks ago.
However, My friends tell me that it’s too late for me to pick up on a whole new language. My heart tells me to ignore them and sign up for a French course, but my mind is afraid I’ll fail. Is 66 too late to start learning a new language?
So, I just have one question. Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is common among older adults, and it’s inevitable. I certainly believe it to be true, but is this considered a myth?
Another misconception about aging that pisses me off is that fashion is not for seniors, and being fashionable doesn’t matter in older ages. As a senior who is 57, I love fashion, and I always care about my appearance. Sometimes my kids tell me it’s too much for me that I always think of my style while they do the same! It breaks my heart to hear such things from my kids. as a mother, I advise you to be more cautious about what you say to your parents. If they’re into something, just let them be, and don’t bother them with your comments!
A friendly suggestion:
Avoid spending time with people who apply stereotypes as an ingrained way of life. They can make you doubt your abilities. It won’t be easy, but as soon as you change the small circle around you, you’ll realize how many of these beliefs weren’t true. 🙂