Are you an ageist?
Let’s debunk some myths that you or someone has about the older population.
The definition of “ageism” is prejudice and discrimination against a particular age-group and especially the elderly. If you have the tendency to regard older persons as feeble, unworthy of attention, unsuitable for employment or believed any of the myths below, you could be an ageist.
MYTH 1: Old people become helpless and cannot take care of themselves.
Reality: Majority of older people are not helpless. They can and do take care of themselves, as in the case of our seniors who live alone.
Reality: It may take longer for an older person to learn something new, but unless the person has dementia, new learning is always possible.
MYTH 3: Old people don’t have feelings.
Reality: Older people may not be quite as sensitive as teenagers or young adults but of course they still have feelings, and are hurt when they are treated like children or idiots.
MYTH 4: Old people are sick and disabled.
Reality: Older people may have a higher risk of developing certain diseases e.g. arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis, etc, but even when they have one of those diseases, older people make changes in their lives so they can remain independent. (ADDITIONAL NOTE FROM AGELESSONLINE: Though older people have higher risk, it doesn’t mean they are unable to prevent certain diseases noted above by living a lifestyle of regular exercise, quit smoking and eating a balanced meal.)
MYTH 5: Most old people are grouchy and unapproachable.
Reality: With ageing the personality remains remarkably stable. An individual who is cheerful and optimistic from young usually remains so throughout life. On the other hand, someone who is unusually grouchy and mean early in life keeps the same personality traits later in life.
MYTH 6: Old people are unproductive.
Reality: More older persons continue to work well into old age, supporting themselves and others.
MYTH 7: Older persons are abandoned by their families and forced to live out their lives in isolation, loneliness, and despondency.
Reality: Most older people do not live alone. Over half of those aged 65 and older live with a spouse or with other relatives. In the last General Household Survey taken in 2005, the resident population aged 65 years and above was 284,329. Out of this number, 247,028 of them lived with either their spouse or with their children. This amounts to 86.9 percent of the seniors’ population.
Myth 8: Old people are senile.
Reality: The ability to remember names and places does decline with age, but not dramatically. By age 60, recalling information is only about 10 percent less effective than it was at age 30.
(This article appeared in the Lions Befrienders Magazine, May 2010. Special thanks to Alwyn Chia of Lions Befrienders for allowing us to republish it. The two pictures in the text came from Lions Befrienders, while the topmost pictures is from stock.xchng/bjearwicke.)