L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Certified Gerontologist

Seniors Drain the Economy

May 9, 2019

Breathe deeply now…. After receiving dozens and dozens of comments on Facebook and from my newsletter subscribers, this week I am going for a grand slam by dispelling a huge myth some younger folks have about us: we are an economic burden. Breathe deeply, again, and read on while you are resting your weary body after a long day at work. People over fifty make up only 35% of the population in the United States, but we add $7.4 Trillion dollars a year to the economy each year, or 43% of the total GDP. That’s not pocket change! Yet from the survey of 2,000 people aged sixteen to thirty-four, a full 35% thought older folks become an economic burden when we become seniors. Looking on the bright side, 65% of those responding to the survey thought we do not become an economic burden as we get older. Now that your blood pressure has dropped, what do you think about this fact? How does it make you feel? I look forward to hearing from you!

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Myth Buster: Seniors are Warm-Hearted but Impaired

April 24, 2019

In the early 2000’s, two researchers at Princeton University queried college students about their opinions of and their ideas about seniors. Sadly, the students consistently grouped the seniors in the same category with disabled and developmentally disabled people, reflecting the widely held prejudice that older adults are low on competence. The students did throw us cognitive-impaired mid-lifers a small bone by rating us high on warmth. Yippee ;-( However, if the students did rate us as being competent, our warmth and likeability factors went through the floor. It seems we can’t be warm and competent at the same time—kind of like being blonde and smart in the same body. On the positive side, there was some wiggle room in how warm and friendly we could be, but the belief that older adults are incompetent was as solid as Mt. Rushmore. Should you think things have changed in the ensuing decade, I am sorry to say, you would be mistaken. In an update to their study published in 2016, Cuddy and Fiske, the researchers, stood by their original findings, and other studies continue to corroborate the first findings of Cuddy and Fiske. Amazing.

How does this information make you feel?

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Myth: In Some Ways, Nothing Has Changed

April 9, 2019

I came across this poem recently and it stopped me cold. I looked at the date and nodded my head, yet realized almost forty years later, many people would still find this poem to be accurate. What do you think?

The Little and the Old Man (1981)

Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”

Said the old man, “I do that too.”

The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”

“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.

Said the little boy, “I often cry.”

The old man nodded, “So do I.”

“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems

Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”

And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.

“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.

Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)

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Myth: People Are “Old” at 56

March 30, 2019

A survey of 2,000 young people sixteen to thirty-four were asked, “What age is ‘old’ to you?” I almost fell out of my desk chair laughing, when I read their answers: the male respondents believe a person becomes “old” at fifty-six. The female respondents gave us a few more years of life by selecting sixty-one as the age at which someone is considered “old.” For anyone reading this who is older than, say, fifty, or fifty-six for sure, I hope you will thank me forever for enlightening you as to what age the younger generation thinks a person is over the hill. I don’t even need to spend time refuting this one. Please share this with some of your other “old” friends for a good laugh, and a knowing roll of the eyes!

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Myth: Our Driving Skills Decline As We Get Older

March 14, 2019

Older drivers are crazy drivers. That’s what younger people, and some older people 😉 seem to believe. However, according to official sources, namely the Federal Highway Safety Administration, drivers sixty-five and over make up only 19% of the crash victims, while those young folks 18-35 make up almost 40%, 38% to be exact, of crash victims. Add to that a study from Consumer Reports which found seniors had fewer crashes per miles driven than younger drivers. The final bombshell that destroys this myth? Research from the University of Swansea suggests that drivers seventeen to twenty-one are four times more likely to crash their cars than are senior drivers. But, anyone who has, or had, teenagers knows that is true. Why do you think kids’ insurance rates are so high and then drop dramatically at twenty-five?

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