Written by Stannah at 13-02-2017
There are many misconceptions associated with ageing that affect our loved ones as they grow older. These stigmas can negatively impact our elderly loved ones and may affect their interactions with others.
The later years of life often feature an increase in expendable time, allowing for new experiences and connections. Unfortunately, some elderly people may feel as if they are no longer productive or valuable.
It is important as caretakers and family members to help our loved ones embrace the fact that “old age” can be filled with meaning and purpose for those who choose to explore the possibilities.
The Queensland Government sets to dispel some common myths about ageing that can be problematic for our elderly loved ones.
Misconception 1 – Brain Power Lessens as we Age
Mental conditions, like dementia, that decrease short or long-term memory are commonly found among the elderly. However, the notion that everyone loses memory function as they age is fundamentally untrue.
In reality, mathematical and verbal abilities and abstract reasoning can actually increase as we grow older. It is important to maintain your brain just like you would for any other part of your body.
Mental stimulation such as a Sudoku® or crossword puzzle, or social interaction, can play a critical role in keeping the mind sharp and warding off degenerative conditions.
Misconception 2 – Older people are a burden on society
You might have heard that older Australians are a burden on the rest of the community. This is a statement that is simply not true. In fact, older Australians donate prolifically to charity, volunteer regularly (over a quarter of QLD residents aged 65 to 75 do volunteering), and travel regularly.
Despite increased health spend per person, unpaid work of seniors in the community is a huge cost-saving measure for the government.
Misconception 3 – Older Adults are Lonely
Losing family members and close friends is, unfortunately, a natural part of life. Feeling socially isolated can lead to a decrease in happiness and a feeling of loneliness for your elderly loved ones. However, there are a multitude of social activities and programs designed to help those in similar situations to maintain positive human interactions. Volunteer opportunities, social clubs and senior centres can stimulate social connections that can support your elderly loved ones through the ageing process.
Misconception 4 – Older Adults Have Multiple Health Problems
There is no denying that our bodies will wear down as we age. However, growing old does not necessarily mean we have to forfeit our independence and spend the rest of our lives in a hospital. While some older individuals may develop health complications, many of them can be avoided by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Proper nutrition, [link to previous healthy eating blog] and exercise, can play a significant role in deterring health complications. It is important that you assist your loved ones in this process and encourage them to remain active.
If navigating their home is a deterrent in this process, you can also consider a Stannah Stairlift which will ensure they are able to move freely throughout their home safely and independently.
Misconception 5 – “You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”
This idiom is often associated with the ageing process, particularly when our elderly loved ones find difficulty in performing an unfamiliar task. While the strategy for learning new skills may be different than it was in their youth, it is important that your elderly loved ones do not shy away from taking on new hobbies and challenges.
Processing new information like this can actually help keep the mind sharp and provide an interesting task to remain stimulated throughout the day.
The fear of ageing is often brought about by misconceptions associated with the process. It is important that you, or your elderly loved ones, look at growing older as a chance to explore new ventures. By staying active, engaged and open to new experiences, the later years of life can be some of the most rewarding.