7 Common Myths about Older Adults You Should Know ...

In today's society many young people have negative attitudes toward adults over the age of 65 based off of stereotypes and myths about older adults. There are some who pay no mind to these stereotypes, however there are too many people who do take part in the discrimination and prejudice of older adults. Today you're going to learn 7 common myths about older adults. Keep reading to learn the facts about older adults so you can share them with your family and friends, and possibly decrease the instances of discrimination and negative attitudes toward older adults.

1. "Most Older Adults Live in Nursing Homes and Cannot Get around by Themselves"

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Fact: About 5 percent of older adults live in nursing homes, and fewer the 20 percent are unable to get around by themselves. This is one of the myths about older adults, I used to think was true. The media is always showing a family putting the wretched mother-in-law in a home, or a grandparent who needs a nurse 24/7, but in actuality, it's not true! Many older adults live by themselves or with family members, and can get around without the help of a nurse.

2. "Older Adults do Little More than Sit around, Watch Television, and Sleep"

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Fact: Older adults have many interests and sleep fewer hours per day than most younger adults. I know this is a fact, because my grandmother and great-grandmother are amazingly active! They're also the last ones asleep and the first ones awake! I don't know how they do it!

3. "Older Adults Who Continue to Work Are Inefficient and Miss Many Work Days Due to Illness"

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Fact: Older adults who work are extremely productive and are rarely late or absent. In my Older Adult class, we watched a documentary about an older woman who worked at a restaurant 6 days a week. Her managers and co-workers were amazed at her productivity. She was named employee of the month over 6 times a year!

4. "Older Adults Are Lonely and Depressed"

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Fact: Many older adults are satisfied with life and very content. There are so many people that are lonely and depressed, and the main population is not elderly people, especially those with families. Many older adults are satisfied with their lives, and enjoy watching their children grow.

5. "People over 65 Have Diseases and Disorders That Limits Their Freedom to do What They Want"

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Fact: Most older adults lead healthy lives and are physically active. Many people believe that all older adults are sick, but that's not even close to being true. My grandfather is 67, and he's a personal trainer at a well known fitness center. Some older adults are in better shape than younger adults!

6. "Older Adults Aren't Interested in People of the opposite Sex"

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Fact: Intimacy and love for those of the opposite sex does not diminish with age. Just because older people are older, that doesn't mean they lose all of their interests. Older people have needs just like younger people, and that doesn't change with age.

7. "Older Adults Are Obsessed with Death and Dying. They Fear Death More than Any Other Age Group"

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Fact: Most older adults fear death less than any other age group. Every human will die, and older adults know that. They aren't obsessed with death, and afraid to go to sleep with the fear that they won't wake up the next morning. 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.

Older adults, especially those over the age of 65, go through many changes caused by aging, but that doesn't mean it changes who they are completely. When your parents or grandparents turn 65, and are official classified as "older adults," don't fret. They're still the same amazing people you knew when they were 64. These are myths because they aren't facts that many people think apply to every older person. Yes, there are several of these points that apply to plenty of older adults, but not all of them. Keep that in mind the next time you encounter an older adult. Don't assume that because they're older, they're fragile, disabled, and senile. Respect them and address them like people, because they're just that…people. Now that you know a few facts about older adults, I hope you can share that knowledge with your friends and peers. Are there any of these myths you thought were true? Which facts most surprised you? Share!

Sources: Pruitt, B. E., Crumpler, K. S., & Stith, D. (2001). Prentice Hall health: skills for wellness (3rd. ed.). Glenview, Ill.: Prentice Hall.

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