Just about any group of people has been stereotyped at some point or another. Personal experiences, media portrayals, and limited amounts of mental bandwidth sometimes cause us to make hasty generalizations. Stereotyping a population can be damaging, and it often leads to discrimination and unproductive notions. Anyone over 65 has probably experienced age discrimination (also known as ageism) at some point, which can be incredibly insulting and irritating. To help fight against stereotyping, we’re countering two widespread misconceptions about seniors in today’s edition of the Village Park Senior Living Blog, followed by two more in next week’s conclusion:
Misconception 1: Most seniors are dependent on others.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), most older adults can maintain independence, with only about 5% of seniors living in nursing homes. No age bracket of people over 65 has a majority in round-the-clock care facilities, but that fraction does increase with age. About 1.1% of people aged 65-74, 3.5% of people aged 75-84, and 13.2% of people aged 85 and older need the highest levels of care. For most older adults, the changes in cognition that sometimes come with age are minor and don’t affect their abilities to perform day-to-day tasks. Less than 20% of people aged 65-74 need some assistance with daily tasks, or need to live in some type of assisted living community, and that percentage also increases with age. However, the vast majority of people over 65—especially those who exercise, eat healthy, and get regular check-ups—live independent lifestyles.
Misconception 2: Quality of life decreases with age.
People tend to overestimate the likelihood that seniority will bring hardship. Although only about 21% of people 65 and older report having serious illnesses, 42% of 18-to-64-year-olds expect to have serious illnesses in old age (according to Pew Research Center polling). Sure, the more time you’re alive, the more time there is to get sick or need doctor visits—but it’s not the foregone conclusion many people seem to think it is. Even when old age does bring some physical or mental health difficulties, many seniors refuse to let that keep them from continuing to live rewarding lifestyles. Many people find new hobbies, skills, and/or romantic partners in their sixties and beyond. As medical knowledge and technology continue to improve, overall life expectancy and later-life quality will likely continue to improve as well. Once you hit retirement age, you can use that free time to do all the enriching, fulfilling things you didn’t previously have time for.
Be sure to check out next week’s edition of the Village Park Senior Living blog to read about two more widespread misconceptions. There are many myths about the elderly, and we believe that educating people about them is the first step toward freeing ourselves from the damage they can do. If you want to learn more about how we strive to improve the lives of seniors, contact Village Park Senior Living to schedule a tour of one of our communities or to discuss what options might be right for you. For more special interest stories and informative articles about topics of interest to seniors and our community, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.