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The myths and misconceptions about older adults are too numerous to count. They range from false ideas about seniors and technology to the stereotype that older adults are lonely and grumpy. Spend time at a senior center or a retirement community, and you’ll see otherwise.
National Senior Citizens Day is August 21. One way you can honor and celebrate the older adults in your community is by helping to bust some of the most common myths about aging.
Myth #1: People get grumpy as they grow older.
Fact: According to research from Stony Brook University, happiness actually begins to increase at age 50. People tend to be more content with life and in touch with who they are by that milestone. Happiness continues to improve throughout the next several decades.
Myth #2: People feel old by the age of 60.
Fact: Not so, says a 2009 Pew Research study. Their research showed that 60 percent of adults age 65 and older feel much younger than they actually are. Many older adults stated they felt 10 to 20 years younger. A positive attitude might have something to do with it. The seniors who said they felt younger than their birth date also expressed gratitude for all their blessings in life.
Myth #3: People who are older have poor health.
Fact: While there are some undeniable physical changes caused by aging, poor health isn’t solely due to age. Experts say lifestyle is the determining factor in aging with success. A few tips for aging well include staying socially connected, exercising, and committing to a healthy diet. Not smoking and managing stress also help.
Myth #4: Older adults can’t learn new things.
Fact: There are so many misconceptions and outdated ideas about learning and aging. Some say the brain shrinks, making it more difficult to adapt and learn. Others say physical changes like hearing and vision loss make learning tough during senior years.
While seniors with vision or hearing loss might learn differently, they are still able to expand their mind and grow. Research shows that seniors’ brains might actually find ways to compensate and work around some losses in cognitive function.
Myth #5: Seniors can’t master social media.
Fact: Sixty percent of older adults use the internet, say experts from Pew Research. Searching for information on health issues, sending and receiving emails, and shopping online are a few of the most popular uses. Social media is another. Older adults make up the fastest growing demographic on some social media platforms, including Facebook.
Myth #6: Advancing age makes people stubborn.
Fact: This myth may be the result of older adults not conforming to family members’ wishes or expectations. Families often say a senior loved one is stubborn when what the senior is actually trying to do is maintain their independence and stay in control of their decisions.