Last updated on April 12, 2021
Plato once quoted, “He who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition, youth and age are equally a burden.” His sentiments ring with the importance of positive thinking. Quite often, society labels old age as something to be fearful of. They glorify youth while forgetting the older ones who helped to shape our world.
When considering age, we cannot avoid it. It’s inevitable. However, what we do have control over is our perspective on aging. Likely, you’ve had some misconceptions with regards to age.
50 Common Myths And Facts About Aging
Consider our list of 50 common myths and their facts that may change your disposition with regards to aging and the elderly.
1. You Lose Common Sense
Although older people are categorized as being inefficient to perform basic tasks, that’s a generalized statement. True, some older people suffer from certain illnesses that impair judgment, but that is not every older person. Often, wisdom comes with age making common sense stronger.
2. You Are Prone to Car Accidents
The Highway Loss Data Institute reports “fewer older drivers died in crashes and fewer were involved as drivers in fatal collisions during 1998-2015 than in years past. The rate of fatalities per capita among older people has decreased 43 percent since 1975.” This means that age doesn’t necessarily equate reckless driving. Many people still operate motor vehicles well into their 60’s and 70’s.
3. You Will Automatically Get Dementia
Roughly, only 8% of the elderly population in the United States suffer from dementia. The common thought is that once you get older, your memory is the first to go. In reality, we are all prone to forgetfulness no matter our age. Older individuals are often grouped in the category of dementia or Alzheimer’s when displaying normal, human imperfections such as forgetfulness.
4. You Will Stop Learning
Wisdom does come with age, but that does not mean you lose the opportunity to learn. Older people have been known to learn new languages, develop skills, and adapt to new situations. Age may change the way you learn, but it in no way eliminates your ability to retain new information.
5. Age Means Depression
Movies portray older people as being dissatisfied with life and depressed. In reality, younger people are just as susceptible to depression as older people. Circumstance and life situations may impact depression, but these changes do not automatically increase with age.
6. Older People Must Say Goodbye To Sex
A recent study found that overall health impacted older individuals sex drive and intimacy needs as opposed to age alone. Sex is a basic human need which does not disappear with age. Psychologist Dr. Simon Tan explains that human needs to not change. Older people still possess the desire to obtain intimacy with others.
7. Exercise is Impossible
Brittle bones and excessive sleeping are typical stigmas associated with age. Many believe that as you get older, you slow down. They think that they’ll have to give up their exercise routine due to limited abilities. However, that is far from the truth. Age does not limit your ability to exercise and remain active. As opposed to ruling exercise out, some older people simply have to change their means of exercising. Interestingly, exercise may help older people stay healthy, sharp, and happy.
8. Everyone, Specifically Women, Has a Fear of Old Age
Yet another generalized statement. All human beings have unique fears that shape their worldview. This is not to say that aging is a universal fear experienced by everyone. In essence, there is no gender bias with regards to fear.
9. Dating and Attraction Ends
Since age is associated with loss of sex drive, sagging skin, and wrinkles- many believe dating and attraction stops. Joan Price is an expert in old age and attraction. When asked about age and dating, she alludes “Older people have needs just like younger people, and that doesn’t change with age.” Many older couples have found love at age 70 and solidified that through marriage. Just because you are older, it doesn’t mean love is off-limits.
Sophia Bush once said, “marriage is not about age; it’s about finding the right person.”
10. Older People are Bitter
Television shows typically have the quintessential older person who yells at kids and has a plethora of neuroses. However, bitterness is not reserved for older people. Situations, outlook, and circumstance can contribute to a person’s bitterness. However, age is not one of them.
11. Your Ability to Do Simple Things is Lost
Much like the common sense misconception, many people believe that with age comes a loss of ability. True, age does bring about a certain set of limitations. However, age affects everyone differently. Where some older ones are unable to perform simple tasks, others are able to. This correlation is true throughout any age group. Everyone has their own personal strengths and weaknesses.
12. Age Stifles Your Ability to Get Hired
True, older age is associated with retirement. However, many people over the age of 60 are getting hired. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over 33 million 55 and older individuals were working in 2015. It is predicted that by 2019, 40% of older individuals will continue to enter the workforce.
13. Fatal and Debilitating Sickness is Inevitable
Death and sickness are two elements associated with old age. However, fatal sicknesses such as Cancer, are not the universal cause of death. Some older people die of natural causes in the comfort of their own home. Illness and death can affect anyone at any age.
14. Aging Equates to Lack Productivity
Just because a person is older, it does not mean they are any less productive. According to a statistic provided by Senior Corps, 500,000 volunteers are older individuals who assist with mentoring, community improvement and adoption. Many who are retired, use their time to develop new hobbies and hone in on their skills. Productivity is a mindset and does not go away with age.
15. Older People are Lonely
Loneliness is related to life choices, not age. Older individuals still have the basic need for involvement and acceptance. Age doesn’t mean you lose all your friends and live a life of seclusion. In fact, there are numerous communities reserved only for older people.
In these communities, they engage in recreational activities that help them maintain their happiness. In addition, the number of older individuals with younger friends isn’t uncommon. A person can always have associates and friends no matter their age.
16. Fun Stops with Old Age
This is quite possibly the most popular misconception. Youth is typically viewed as the best time for fun and excitement. However, fun is relative to the beholder. Therefore, older people can engage in activities that provide them with joy. The only difference may be the type of entertainment chosen. Even still, an older individual may engage in traditionally younger activities and still have a great time.
17. Older People Do Not Care for Themselves
Lyn Slater is the newest fashion icon ranking 300,000 plus followers on social media. She sports bold patterns, edgy heels, and struts like she’s on the runway. Lyn Slater is 64 years old. Many older people still dress to impress and take care of themselves. It’s a huge disservice to the older community to group them all into a category of frumpiness.
18. Elderly People Dislike Younger People
It’s a common misconception that older people resent the younger generation. A recent nursing home implemented a program where they bought preschool aged children into the facility. The look on the elderly attendant’s faces was unforgettable. They thoroughly enjoyed watching the children play!
19. Older People Stop Caring About Life
There are thousands of older people and seniors who enjoy, relish and embrace life with all the energy of people much younger than they are. It’s all about individual mindset. It’s all about individual mindset. Death is inevitable, but we choose how to live. Living in the moment is a vital mantra for all ages.
20. The Older You Get the More Docile You Become
Docile can be described as submissive and easily controlled. Many believe that older people are easy to take advantage of due to varying factors. However, submission is a quality learned all throughout life.
Typically, personality doesn’t dramatically change as a person grows older. If a person was submissive at a young age, they will likely remain that way into older age. This is not universal, however. There are a variety of personalities within the elderly community that is far from docile!
21. Age Means Losing Beauty
From a young age, we are encouraged to focus on age prevention. Countless moisturizers promise to eliminate the signs of aging. However, beauty is relative and ever-changing. There is a significant beauty in old age that is often overlooked. Just because a person has grey hair or wrinkles, doesn’t mean they are any less beautiful than a young person. We as a society must change our perspective on beauty as opposed to creating one single definition of what’s acceptable.
22. You Forget Past Hobbies/Skills
Forgetfulness is a common side effect of an older brain. However, studies have shown that it’s easy for an older person to remember skills developed at a younger age. Certain hobbies such as bike riding, drawing, or singing are hobbies that remain through practice.
If anyone were to stop practicing their skills, the likelihood of losing it is high. This is not unique to older ones. Renowned artist Pablo Picasso continued painting well into his older age.
23. Falling is Normal
The act of falling is something that affects everyone from babies to animals. Many believe that only older people are susceptible to falling. Sure, the increased risks associated with falling are greater. However, that does not mean only older people have to fall.
24. We Have to Take Care of Older People
As mentioned previously, there are self-sufficient older people who hold their own in society. A common misconception is that all older people require 24/7 care. A vast majority of older ones live alone and take care of themselves.
25. Older People Have to Have Children/Grandchildren
With the modern woman emerging in the early 90’s, many chose not to have children. This is not a new concept. The New York Times recently interviewed a 63-year-old woman named Ann Logan.
She describes not regretting her decision to have children as she has a “chosen” support system that she relies on. As society leans more toward not having kids, we can only imagine the statistic of childless elderly people going up.
26. When You Age You Give Up
Society tosses the elderly aside; making them seem as if they are not worthy. In reality, many older people utilize their age and experience to pursue their interests. Some may even shy away from conversing with an older person, for fear they may only talk about death.
Writer Marquitta Fields explains, “Many people are afraid to talk to older adults because they believe that they’ll talk about how it’s almost their time. Remember that most adults don’t obsess about that, and you’ll find it a lot easier and less stressful to hold a conversation with an older adult.”
27. Age Means Drastic Personality Changes
Studies have shown that as we grow older, our personality typically remains the same. Sure, circumstantial elements may impact certain values and ideas. However, the likelihood of an older person completely changing without cause is rare. As you age, you do acquire experience and wisdom which may improve your personality for the better!
28. Diet Restrictions Become Intense
Sure, certain medications many elderly people are on may require certain diet restrictions. However, this is not the case for every senior. Like any age group, healthy eating should be a priority. Just because of a person aging, this doesn’t mean they are limited to bread and applesauce.
29. Your Cognition Decreases
One myth about growing older is that your mind decreases in sharpness. There are “brain games” that individuals can play, at any age, to keep their cognitive skills sharp. While some may experience cognitive decline, many others stay shar and work past their 70s or even 80s.
Cognition can improve and remain intact through work.
30. The Choices In Your Youth Affect How You Age/Getting Sick
Many people obsess over choices they’ve made in their youth in order to avoid regret as they grow older. They may even feel that by doing so prevents sickness. Although it is wise to be cognizant of the decisions we make, those decisions may or may not improve our health. There is no set algorithm to follow when it comes to aging.
31. You Can Avoid Wrinkles
Beauty companies make millions of dollars yearly with the hopes of preventing the signs of aging. While certain creams and elixirs may maintain the collagen in the skin, you cannot prevent wrinkles 100%.
32. You Want To Separate Yourself From Society
When you get older, many believe that the need to stay updated is no longer useful. Some may even get the notion that elderly people do not understand society in comparison to how they grew up.
While it takes time to grow accustomed to new mentalities, many older people are open to change. Grouping every older person into a closed minded box discredits the older men and women who still fight for societal change.
33. You Lose Creativity
Often times, age embraces creativity. Yayoi Kusama is an 88-year-old artist who creates conceptual art with a modern flare. Her work is widely known, and she is recognized as one of the great artists of our century. Just because you age, you do not automatically lose all creative insight. Often times, older people turn their life experience into beautiful works of art.
34. Your Outlook On Life is Negative
Negativity can strike anyone no matter the age. It all depends on your outlook. Since older people are assumed to be “closer to death” and susceptible to illness, many assume that they are negative. However, making that assumption is prejudging an entire community of people without truly knowing them.
35. You Avoid Technology
Technology is ever changing. However, many older people utilize smartphones, apps, and other technologically advanced machines to assist them. Life Alert was a revolutionary invention that saved the lives of many elderly people. Without their openness to new technology, the invention would have failed.
36. You Don’t Know How to Work Gadgets
Along the lines of avoiding technology, many are under the impression that older people do not know how to work gadgets such as cell phones, computers, or tablets. Like anything newly introduced, once learned the task can be accomplished. Older people may need more time understanding the process of operating certain machines, but that need to learn isn’t reserved for only the elderly. We all could use some assistance when learning new technology.
37. Older People Lack Social Skills
As mentioned, your personality doesn’t go through a tremendous amount of changes as you grow old. If you lack social skills as a youth, you are likely to keep those same personality traits well into old age. Much like the previous generalizations, not every older person is the same.
38. You Have Many Regrets
Often times, people believe that older people experience many regrets as they grow older. A silly assumption, in fact just like anyone any other age group this varies on an individual basis.
Moreover, with age comes wisdom that shows regret to be a useless emotion. We cannot believe that every older person is swimming with regret, much like we can’t assume that every young adult regrets their childhood.
39. Retirement is Automatic
Mentioned previously, 40% of the elderly population is currently employed. With the recent changes within the government, retirement isn’t an option for some people.
40. Alcoholism Increases
Many people believe that alcoholism increases with age and affects the elderly. However, alcohol addiction can affect anyone at any age. Although doctors agree that alcohol can bring on early signs of aging, there is no evidence supporting elderly people are any more addicted to alcohol than other age groups.
41. Sleeping Patterns Change
Many assume that all older people do is sleep for extended periods of time, However, age doesn’t equate to sleep patterns drastically changing. Previously quoted writer Marquitta Fields speaks on her experience in studying older people. She says, ” Older adults have many interests and sleep fewer hours per day than most younger adults.”
42. Osteoporosis is Normal
Osteoporosis occurs when bones are fragile. Although the likelihood of developing this condition is easier after 35, it is not a rite of passage for every elderly person. You can take preventative measures to build bone strength which is necessary at any age.
43. Most Of The Older Population is Senile
Movies and television will have you believing that odd behavior and outlandish comments are normal steps in the aging process. However, the reality is that less than 20 percent of the older population are actually displaying odd behavior.
44. Americans Do Not Take Care of Elderly Family Members
In foreign countries, it is customary for older parents to live with their children as they grow older. In Indian cultures, older people aren’t even able to drive after a certain age.
With the number of nursing homes increasing in the United States, many would assume that Americans just push their elderly family members off for others to take care of. However, at least 65 million individuals reported caring for an elderly family member in the United States. This disproves the myth that all Americans stop caring for their elderly family members.
45. Abuse Ends With Age
Although specific statistics cannot determine how many elderly people suffer from abuse, a recent study found that 1 in three elderly people are abused while staying in nursing homes. This does not account for the hundreds of individuals suffering in silence. Unfortunately, abuse can impact the lives of anybody at any age.
46. 65 is When Age Begins to Show
This myth ignites fear in individuals who fear “looking old.” However, the truth is, there is no set age for wrinkles and grey hair to show. There have been 16-year-olds with grey hair and young adults with wrinkles. Age does not determine beauty.
47. Nursing Homes are the Only Option
As mentioned, many older people are being taken in by their family members, In recent times, modern communities have created senior living spaces that are far from the standard nursing home. There are countless options for older people to consider.
48. Age Means Poor Decision Making
Many family members feel the need to make important decisions regarding their elderly relatives for them and without their consent. Believe it or not, older people are extremely competent. They have the ability to make important decisions concerning their life. Just because a person is older, it does not mean they don’t deserve respect.
49. There is No New Information About Aging
Researchers are finding new information regarding the aging process all the time. Countless scientific studies have discovered breakthroughs and new information that give the older community dignity. Their findings have been able to shed insight into aging on all levels, from societal to physical, mental and emotional health.
50. Your Life is Over as You Age
This is farthest from the truth. The quality of a person life is determined by the beholder. Anyone can experience the beauty of life as long as they possess a positive mindset.
There are numerous misconceptions about aging and the elderly. Despite the myths, generalized opinions of aging can result in prejudice and misunderstandings. There is great beauty in aging and it’s time our society emphasizes it.