Many people fear getting older, but their trepidations are based on myths and stereotypes rather than facts. These cultural misconceptions about aging can cause profound mental anguish and even detract from the beauty of the experience.
Below, read about some of the most common myths about aging and stereotypes about the elderly. That way, we can respect our elders more and look forward to becoming one ourselves!
Older Adults Can’t Learn New Things
While your brain changes throughout your lifetime, you don’t hit a pinnacle of cognitive development in young adulthood and then begin to decline.
This stereotype often discourages older people from pursuing new hobbies that might be life-giving. Moreover, there’s no better time to learn new things and gain new experiences than in retirement.
Whether learning to play an instrument, tackling reading the classics, or figuring out how to fix antique cars, don’t be afraid to explore new things.
They also Forget What They Already Know.
Diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s indeed show up in old age. But not every older person suffers from these, just as not everyone gets arthritis or cancer.
Even if you notice that you forget things, keep in mind that you have decades more of experiences and memories than your younger counterparts. It would be impossible to remember every detail, but it’s not always a sign of cognitive deterioration.
Aging Entails Depression and Loneliness
The studies examining depression and loneliness in older adults are alarming. But the correlation between aging and emotional distress is better explained by lifestyle changes and loss than the aging process.
You can’t deny that aging has challenging facets, including grief and loss. But you can maintain a healthy, happy life. Stay close to family and engage in your community. Befriend yourself and relish your alone time.
If you sense yourself struggling, seek help from a therapist or spiritual leader.
You Can Only Engage in Gentle Physical Activity
Assuming that seniors are feeble plays into the stereotype that they are vulnerable. However, many older adults remain active well into their later years. One man completed Ironman competitions well into his 80s. Others hike, bike, swim, travel, and more.
Lack of physical activity puts older adults at greater risk of serious injury. It helps slow bone and muscle loss and prevents excess weight gain. Some activities can even help improve balance and prevent falls, like Tai Chi.
Forget About Sex
Another common stereotype is that older adults–especially post-menopausal women–don’t have or enjoy sex. Some people even believe that sex is dangerous for older adults.
Adults can experience sexual enjoyment at all ages. For some, libido may even increase, especially if you become more comfortable with yourself and confident about your desires with age.
What’s more, healthy sex is beneficial for all adults, including older adults. It helps you form and maintain a strong bond with your partner and releases feel-good hormones in your brain, among its many benefits.
Seniors are Rigid and “Set in Their Ways”
There is a strong stereotype that older adults hate change, crave the lifestyle of their youth, and detest today’s generation. None of those things are true!
Moreover, each person has control over whether they will be open-minded at any stage of their life. Old age does not predetermine your level of adventurousness. The trick is never to stop exploring and evolving.
If there is any truth to this stereotype, most of us spend our youths exploring different things until we find what works for us. By the time we’re in our 50s or 60s, we’ve found it!
It’s Too Late to Improve Your Overall Health
Whether it’s bone density, smoking cessation, or wearing sunscreen, it’s never too late to make lifestyle changes that are good for your overall health.
A human being is the same animal with the same genetic material regardless of age. Therefore, the things that are good for young people are almost always good for the aged.
Live Your Best Life, Later in Life
There is a tremendous amount of wonder to be experienced at every stage of life. Don’t let the myths and stereotypes of aging stop you from putting yourself out there and living your best life right now.