You know how myths develop a life of their own and become mistaken for fact? This has never been more true when it comes to aging. That's why, when I read the eight top myths about aging on Senior Planet, I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. The myths perpetrated against the elderly are something to behold. Here are just three myths that are all too common, according to gerontologist Joan Erber, co-author of the book, Great Myths of Aging:
"Older people are suckers -- easy prey for scam artists."
It is often said that older people are far and away the demographic that is most vulnerable when it comes to scams. Actually, says Erber, people in their 80s and 90s may be more trusting, but they are no more gullible than young people. The reason it appears more older people are scammed, she says, is likely that they are targeted more often because of their perceived nest eggs. In addition, older people are less likely to report fraud.
"If you live long enough you'll wind up in a nursing home."
Not true, says Erber; in fact, "only a small minority of old people wind up in nursing homes." In 2011, for example, less than 4 percent (3.6 percent) of people age 65 and older lived in institutional settings. The trend today is for older people to "age in place."
"Brain power declines with age."
Yes, certain cognitive abilities (short term memory, for example) decline with age. However, "a recent study about aging and wisdom concluded that older people are more likely to look at things from multiple perspectives, allow for compromise and recognize that knowledge has limits."
It would serve our generation well if we were to continue to set examples that bust up myths like these. For more myths, go to Senior Planet.