Seven Myths of Aging

A lot is written about senior citizens in our communities. Often, those opinions are made by non-seniors who judge our actions without thoroughly investigating our motivations or true desires.

Here are a few myths that make up the opinions of some community members about its senior citizens:

  1.  Older people are set in their ways. I believe it’s true that if you were open minded as a young person, you’ll be that way as you age. The opposite is true as well — if you were closed off and not receptive to change, you’ll be that way in your later years. After all, if the majority of us were so set in our ways, you’d not see a preponderance of older people taking classes or traveling so much.
  2. Senior citizens are easy prey for scam artists. Yes, most older people today grew up in a much more trusting environment. That doesn’t mean they don’t learn from the news or from the experience of others. AARP and other senior organizations spend a lot of time and money making sure seniors are alerted to possible frauds and how to protect themselves.
  3. Older people lose interest in sex. Okay, okay, I can see you waving your arms signaling a desire to avoid a vivid conversation about elder sex. Just know that the desire for intimacy never goes away. Most seniors who are healthy and physically able engage in some form of sex well into their 90’s.
  4. Our brain power and smarts deteriorate as we age. It’s true that certain aspects of cognitive functioning decline with age. While tests requiring speediness may lag a bit as we age, our overall knowledge and verbal ability don’t dissipate over time.
  5. We all eventually wind up in a nursing home. This is just a flat out incorrect assumption. Less than 15% of people 65 and older nationwide lived in an assisted living facility in 2015. You’ll know when you get older:  who doesn’t want to stay in their homes as long as possible?
  6. We’re grouchy! C’mon, that’s not even fair to make a sweeping statement about any age group. It’s another one of those situations where, if you weren’t generally grouchy in your younger years, you’ll probably not be grouchy as you age. I think we get a lot of this old-person-being-grouchy stereotype from the movies and the entertainment fields with Disney, which showed many of it’s older characters being angry or stern (a couple of aged witches, step-sisters, and a few dwarfs too).
  7. We want to put off retirement because it’s depressing. I don’t know a single soul who has been upset or depressed about retiring or about the prospect of retiring soon. Obviously, it helps to have a solid source of income, relatively good health and enough activities to keep you stimulated, both physically and intellectually. There are some people who, after retiring, drift back into a second career, but not because retirement is depressing. Some gain employment after retiring to keep busy and to augment their pensions.

So, what myths about older people have you heard?