In Great Myths of Aging by Joan T Erber and Lenore T Szuchman generalizations and stereotypes associated with older people combined with a blend of humor and cutting-edge research, dispels some common myths. From older people getting into more car accidents to worries about falling, here is some of our favorite ageing myths de-bunked!
If older widows date, it’s to find a new husband.
Some widows would like to settle down with a new spouse, but many just want to get dressed up for an evening out, feel attractive to men, and even share intimacy. But wanting to take care of a new spouse in sickness and in health? Many have been there, done that, and do not want to sign up for it again. They prefer to enjoy their new-found freedom and be in charge of their own funds. They have no wish to become a “nurse and purse” to a new spouse.
Older people are stingy
This negative stereotype misses the distinction between stingy and frugal. One of the difficulties older adults face after retirement is deciding how to expend their resources wisely, given the uncertainty about the amount of time those resources must last. Many people fear becoming financially dependent on the younger generation. Financial help often flows from the older to the younger generation (such as help with adult children’s and grandchildren’s expenses) until very late old age – hardly a sign of stinginess.
Older people are extra cautious when they have to make decisions
In decision areas as diverse as automobile purchase and cancer treatment, research has shown that older adults are more likely than younger adults to select an option without reviewing information on all the alternatives. They just spend more time thinking about each option they do consider.
Older people get into more car accidents than younger people
Here is an area of cautious behavior unrelated to decision-making. Older adults are cautious about where and when they drive; they wear seatbelts; they don’t text while driving; and they don’t drink and drive. They are safer than the youngest drivers.
Older people worry too much about falling
In reality, they may not worry enough. Each year, one out of three adults aged 65 and older experiences a fall. Up to 30% of older adults who do fall suffer moderate to severe life-changing injuries (hip fractures or head trauma, for example). Yet, a significant number think falling is someone else’s problem and do not recognize the precautions they should take in the home, which is where many falls occur.
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