Some stereotypes die more slowly than others. Older Americans are subjected to a variety of stigmas in society — skewed perceptions of old age that even the elderly themselves sometimes “fall for.”
Of course, the face of old age in America is changing more rapidly than ever. As estate planning attorneys, we’re continually reminded that “old” doesn’t mean what it once did. But the misconceptions endure.
Fortunately, a recent feature on “The Today Show” took a compelling swipe at some of the most persistent myths about old age. We thought we’d share some of those with you below:
- “Old people are slow.” There might be some truth in that notion, but as “Today” points out, speed and success aren’t the same thing. They cite a study in which older runners were found to be slower but also much more efficient than their youthful counterparts.
- “Old people are angry.” On the contrary! Research shows that elderly Americans enjoy more widespread contentment than any other demographic in the country. Grumpy Old Men might be a good movie but it’s less effective as a label.
- “Old people are forgetful.” This one really depends. While cognitive function does generally decline with age, there’s plenty that people can do to keep their minds razor-sharp as they grow older. Exercise plays an important part.;
- “Old people don’t have sex.” Here again, the stereotype fails to reflect reality. About half of America’s coupled seniors report having sex with some regularity, and the older population generally reports satisfaction with their sex lives. If “The Golden Girls” taught us anything, it’s that there’s no direct correlation between age and sex.
- “Old people are weak.” The experts on “Today” took this one to task too, conceding that while seniors have their work cut out for them, frailty is far from a foregone conclusion. Good health, exercise, and strong social engagement can help keep our bodies fit and strong for a long time to come.