older man and woman on a bench metaphor for aging and ageism

Common Myths About Aging

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What myths do you hold about aging? Think about older adults you know who live in the community, not those who are in nursing homes or care centres. Does your view of aging fit with the following images?

  • John Glenn returned to space at the age of 77.
  • Michelangelo was carving the Rondanini just before he died at the age of 89.
  • Well into her nineties, Canadian Doris McCarthy still painted, travelled, and published her memoir, Doris McCarthy: Ninety Years Wise.
  • Betty Nickerson was 75 when she founded the Amazing Grays, an annual gathering to celebrate older women. 

If you were to ask your friends for their general perception of elderly people, many might describe the physical and the medical disabilities associated with those who need care in a nursing home. This image overlooks the fact that about 80% of seniors aged 65 to 85 years are healthy enough to carry out their daily routines and participate actively in society. It is true however, that many of those over 80 years of age do receive help, from family or friends, with at least one activity such as grocery shopping, housework, or money management.

Myths and Stereotypes

Read each of the following statements. Do you think it is a myth or a fact? Then click on the link for the pdf with more information about each topic.

  • The majority of older people get dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Most older people cannot learn something new.
  • The majority of older people feel miserable.
  • Most old people are set in their ways and unable to change
  • A person who is now 65 years of age can expect to live more than 15 years longer.
  • The majority of older people are isolated and lonely.
  • The majority of seniors live in chronic care facilities (i.e. nursing homes, continuing care centres).
  • Seniors continue to work by choice, not by necessity.
  • Seniors spend many hours each week in volunteer activities.
  • Most seniors are debt-free

After thinking about each of the statements above, read more in the article. Common Myths About Aging

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