The aging process affects everyone sooner or later. The media has created lots of stereotypes about aging, and almost all of them are negative.
It’s important to avoid these common misconceptions about aging so you can treat your loved ones with respect and dignity. As with most implicit biases, myths about aging can unintentionally hurt the ones we love the most.
Here are seven myths about aging to look out for.
1. Seniors Don’t Understand What’s Going On
Aside from seniors with cognitive problems, elderly people understand what’s happening around them just as anyone else does.
Many people fall for this myth because elderly people may look and act differently from them. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your loved one doesn’t know what’s going on.
Everyone should be inclusive and respectful around seniors, treating them as you would any other adult.
2. Elderly People Shouldn’t Move Around Much
The belief that seniors shouldn’t move around often is one of the misconceptions about aging that can be especially harmful. Many people believe that aging equals fragility, so seniors shouldn’t exercise or stay mobile.
The opposite is true. Seniors who are able-bodied should get plenty of exercise each week. Physical activity is one of the best defenses against age-related health problems.
If a senior has specific medical issues and restrictions, then their doctor should provide them with alternate activities they can do. Even taking short walks around the block can be beneficial for aging adults.
3. Every Aging Adult Will Get Dementia or Alzheimer’s
One of the most common myths about aging is that every older adult eventually develops memory problems.
This simply isn’t true. As science progresses, we are learning more about how to prevent and treat cognitive problems in seniors.
There are many misconceptions about dementia and Alzheimer’s as well. Dementia refers to any cognitive problems that seniors may face, including memory loss and unusual irritability. Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, is a specific neurological disease that progresses with age.
Alzheimer’s is caused by plaque entanglements in the brain. Over time, the plaque builds up and interferes with thinking, memory, and behavior.
While these problems can be frightening, it is not a guarantee that every senior adult will develop them. Only a qualified professional can diagnose these health problems, so you shouldn’t assume that every senior has them.
4. Seniors Can’t Be Independent
As a society, we often associate aging with loss of independence. But independence is one of the most important factors in seniors feeling good about themselves and respected by others. As long as an elderly adult is not at risk for safety problems, they can perform almost any task independently.
It’s important to avoid assuming that seniors are automatically dependent on others. There are various levels of senior care available, depending on each individual’s medical and psychological needs.
5. Every Older Adult Must Go to a Nursing Home
One of the most common stereotypes about aging is that every older person needs to live in a nursing home. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Nursing homes and other senior facilities are not always necessary for aging adults, and it’s important not to assume that a move is inevitable. In fact, they are often not the best solution for age-related problems.
In-home senior care is designed to meet seniors’ needs without taking away their independence and living spaces. This is just one example of an alternative form of care outside of nursing homes.
6. Seniors Are Always Grumpy
In movies and television shows, elderly adults are often portrayed as angry, irritable, and short-tempered. This stereotype is harmful and can cause biases against older adults.
In reality, every senior is a different individual. They all have their own personalities, temperaments, and preferences. If an older adult acts grumpy, they may have underlying problems or need a different form of care.
Plenty of seniors enjoy happy, optimistic lives. In fact, many seniors take pride in caring for their grandchildren and spending time around people of all ages.
Just like any other age group, if seniors’ needs are met, they are likely to act in a positive manner.
7. Elderly People Can’t Be Healthy
While it’s true that many seniors have complex medical needs, it doesn’t mean that they can’t lead healthy lifestyles. People who take care of their bodies in their younger years are much less likely to suffer from health problems as seniors.
It’s essential for people of all ages to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, and get adequate sleep each night. These healthy habits can lead to a better experience as an aging adult.
Knowledge Is Power: Break the Stigma Against Aging
Aging can be an enlightening, fulfilling process in people’s lives. Don’t be afraid of getting older and enjoying your life to the fullest!
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.