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Debunking the Most Common Elderly Stereotypes

elderly stereotypes

The stereotypes of the elderly we see on TV now are absolutely unfair. They show older adults as shut-ins who are weak and need round the clock help.

While yes, that’s true for some people. the majority of aging adults live vibrant and active lives. The best tv program that dismissed elderly stereotypes was the show Golden Girls.

Each of the women in that show had their own hobbies and all three of the main characters worked. Blanche was very sexually active and Sophia had sass till the end.

If only we could educate people now about the realities of aging with Dorothy’s stinging sass. Since we’re sure we can’t afford her fee- we’ve done our best to address the myths about aging in the article below.

The Elderly Can’t Live Alone

What do you picture when you think of an elderly person’s living situation? You probably think about a nursing home, where there are wheelchairs and nurses.

But did you know that only five percent of older adults live in homes? It’s true.

Even if an elderly person receives some sort of care, that doesn’t mean they’re immobile and unable to care for themselves. There are many elderly people that can do everything that you do, albeit slower.

If you go to Florida, you’ll see that most elderly people there can and do drive.

Older People are Celibate

Actually, nothing could be farther from the truth. Most elderly people, especially the five percent in homes, are very active. Since almost all are retired, they have nothing to do all day but pursue their hobbies.

Sometimes those hobbies include pursuing people of the opposite sex. Since seniors don’t have a chance of getting pregnant though, many don’t use any protection.

Due to this, we’re seeing a rampant spread of sexually transmitted diseases in these populations. Given the culture when they were getting married, many didn’t have a chance to be explorative when they were young.

So, they’re showing their wild oats now.

Most of the time, there’s no problem with that. Except that they need to remember to use protection and get tested regularly!

There are even dating sites for the elderly so they can meet online. It’s a very connected world we live in.

Older Adults are Afraid of Dying

While we all have our fears about meeting our makers, the elderly deal with death much more than you or I.

Since it’s so prominent in their life with their friends and people in their communities, most have a good sense of humor about it. If you need to have a planning conversation with the older adult in your life, then don’t shy away from bringing it up.

You should obviously ease into it, but they can handle talking about it, we promise. It may turn out to be a harder conversation for you than for them.

The Elderly are Weak and Fragile

There are plenty of older adults that go on daily walks, bike rides, even lift weights. Almost all gyms nowadays have their own programs, especially for seniors.

These programs are well attended since the elderly are self-aware enough to know they need to move their bodies. Also, osteoporosis risk goes down with muscle growth and exercise.

People With Dementia Can’t Live Life

Probably the most hurtful of all the assumptions on this list, it’s wrong to assume people with dementia can’t live their lives. Yes, it takes a new level of care and they have to adjust their daily activities. They need help to do certain things – but they can still do them.

People with advanced memory issues are part of those five percent of people in controlled care. It’s the safest option for them, in a world that’s more than willing to take advantage of them.

These centers and living communities have special activities and resources that can help people with dementia live a full life.

The Elderly are Timid and Not Adventurous

Think about the things you’d do with even a month off from work and money in your savings account. Would you travel the world? Would you buy a house? Become a painter?

The opportunities for people in retirement are endless and many people can’t wait to get out of work.

The Elderly Don’t Work

Remember when we talked about Golden Girls being more historical than fiction? That’s true when it comes to income and jobs as well. Many elderly people retire but have some sort of income.

They may still work a few times a week or even pick up a shift in a sector they’ve always wondered about. Or maybe they manage their portfolio of trading assets. Their budgets are still tight, but they’re not leaching money from society.

It may help to refer them to an accountant who specializes in retirement, social security, and a fixed budget. Just so they can have a person to turn to when questions arise.

Older Adults are Boring

Just because they walk a little slower than you and aren’t great at typing fast, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your company. Too many people don’t call their grandparents back or go out to lunch with their parents because they’re afraid it’ll be boring.

That’s hurtful. Your parent or grandparents are still the same people and they still have valuable things to say. Give them a chance tell you stories and listen intently. Storytelling is the greatest form of communication we have.

Disproving Elderly Stereotypes

The best thing you can do as an older adult or even as their child to disprove elderly stereotypes is to live your life every day. You’ll need to adjust as challenges come, but otherwise, treat the elderly person the way you’d treat anyone else.

Finally, answer the phone when they call – you can at least do that! Want to learn a little bit more about aging resources? We’ve gathered them here.