Posted on Jul 18, 2018 in Aging
Ageism is a common form of prejudice that many people neglect to see or do something about. Unfortunately, it is all too common an occurrence to perceive seniors as handicapped, stubborn, or unable to perform daily tasks. From jokes we tell to television portrayals, the never-ending ageist stereotypes do nothing but harm our image of seniors. Here are some of the most common myths and stereotypes about seniors that we want to put to bed:
One perception we have to get rid of is the idea that senior citizens only sleep all day or sit around watching TV shows and movies about old age. It’s true that as we age, we are more likely to develop a physical ailment that restricts our ability to be active, but even seniors with disabilities are hardly unproductive. Seniors in retirement communities spend all day doing activities with other senior citizens such as playing games, talking, or grabbing a meal together. Seniors outside of retirement homes often take care of gardens, pets, or just tend to their houses. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics state that 24% of senior citizens engage in some form of volunteer work after retirement. Consider this myth put out of work.
Look, we know that no one wants to think about it, but discussing the prolific and healthy sex lives of our senior population is the only way to dismantle the pervasive ageist stigma in our society. This stereotype is harmful to our seniors, who may feel guilty about expressing their sexual nature, and it hurts our understanding of seniors by continuing a misconception about aging and libido. Our seniors are capable of and engaged in having an active sex life, so consider this myth to be limp.
One common activity in senior housing and retirement communities is making art. In fact, art is an excellent activity for people of any age. When you look at some of the most prolific artists of all time, you see that many did some of their best work, and were more productive, into their late age. The composer Vincenzo Bellini passed at 86, Michelangelo passed at 89, Monet at 86, Mattise at 84, and Picasso at 91. All these artists flowered with age and continued to produce prolific work adored by millions well into their senior years. Creativity never leaves you, and as long you keep aging, you discover new things about yourself and the world around you to create art around. For example, Grandma Moses was an American artist who held her first art show when she was 80 and continued to paint until she passed at age 101. This myth needs to go back to the drawing board.
It’s true that seeing your friends and family pass away before you can be a lonely and traumatizing experience, but that’s not all that aging involves. The older you get, the more opportunities you have to make friends, spread love, and learn new activities. Social isolation can be detrimental to senior health, but places like senior centers, retirement homes, and assisted living communities to provide seniors with opportunities to socialize and engage in activities with other seniors. This myth can go die in a hole by itself.
It’s true that the age-related disease of Alzheimer’s can produce adverse cognitive changes in senior, but there are plenty of seniors that remain spry and intelligent throughout their lives. Seniors have the accrued wisdom and experience of many years of life, making them privy to more knowledge than most. In a New York Times article on the mental sharpness of middle-aged to senior people, author Patricia Cohen points out that a longer lifespan allows a person to learn more about interpersonal relationships and to expand their vocabulary. The mature brain is undoubtedly the most equipped to store a vast supply of information to draw from. In other words, this myth is duller than a 5th-grade classroom’s Crayola collection.
Contrary to popular belief, seniors are some of the happiest age groups out there. At least, according to this study, seniors report a higher quality of life and satisfaction with their weight than any other age demographic. Retirement offers the opportunity to pursue activities and pursuits that you may otherwise have been too busy to chase beforehand. Events such as reading, writing, painting, and playing games are all activities that seniors love to participate in retirement homes, and that gets even better when done with peers. If you’ve seen the movie the Bucket List, you’d know that age is no barrier to having a good time. It’s an opportunity to do things you’ve never done or had the time for. Let’s throw this boring myth about seniors away in the trash.
How many times have you seen an old person portrayed on television as crotchety and unwilling to accept change? There’s Jay Pritchett from Modern Family, Frank Costanza from Seinfeld, and plenty more. The truth is that while seniors may hold on to their convictions, they are some of the most adaptable people on the planet. Think about it, by the time one has become a senior citizen; they will have had to experience so much change and transitions in their life that we couldn’t imagine. Seniors have had a lifetime of adapting to new situations, old age being one of them. Traveling/exploring, learning a new language, and taking up numerous other daily activities are all things that enhance one’s viewpoint of the world. Seniors are full of rich life-experiences that impart wisdom, common-sense, compassion and a great deal of open-mindedness. Let’s change the record on this myth.
While it is true that seniors have higher attendance rates for religious ceremonies and events, this does not mean that people are more inclined to religion at an older age. Plenty of seniors are agnostic, Christian, Muslim and every other religion out there, but they didn’t become that way because of age. If anything, it is merely a generational difference that accounts for the different participation rates between older and younger demographics for attending religious events. They only grew up in a time when going to church was more common. So let’s perform last rites for this myth, and bury it for good.
If you’re looking for more senior living blogs and resources, make sure to read our informative blogs every week. They will provide answers to many senior living topics. If your thinking it may be time for your loved one to move into one of the best active retirement communities, Landmark Senior Living is the place for you. People. Passion. Purpose. That’s our mantra, and we live by it every day.