fbpx
L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Gerontologist

Myth: Dementia Is An Inevitable Result Of Old Age

While young people think all older people get dementia, the facts do not support this belief. A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds dementia only affects 10.5% of adults sixty-five and over. Even more good news to refute this myth comes from a large multi-country European study showing the dementia rate has actually fallen by 23% in the past twenty years, even though people are now living longer!

Myth: Dementia Is An Inevitable Result Of Old Age

Let me lay my cards right on the table, I hate the term “anti-aging.” Why? First because there is no such thing, just like there is no such thing as partial forgiveness or being a little pregnant.  Secondly, this term goes to the heart of our cultural problem of ageism—that stereotype of negative attitudes toward older folks. Dr. Jill Chonody, author of Social Work Practices with Older Adults, writes, “Antiaging norms have become a regular part of American culture and as a result they are readily expressed through and reinforced by an “anti-aging movement” which dictates that physical signs of aging should be hidden by “anti-aging products” to cover age-related ‘flaws.’ ” Dr. Chondoy cites stats of a more than 100% increase in surgical and non-surgical procedures (from $80m to $114m), from 1997-2014, adding the last four years to bring it to over $120m. She goes on to say, “The marketing of these products goes without much notice much like greeting cards. No magazine or products are labeled anti-black or anti-woman, but anti-aging is a very common label for commercial products, including books. Why do we spend money on these products, why would we have unnecessary surgery to hide the physical signs of aging? Social messages repeatedly tell us that aging is unattractive and should be avoided at all costs and we believe it without question.”

So, as we all know, there is only one true way not to age, and that isn’t really a very fun alternative 😉

anti-aging

Myth: Anti-Aging Is Possible

I somehow think I should have started these posts with this myth, but sometimes I am a little late to the party—that way you don’t have to stay there as long!  😉

Dr. James Thornton, now professor emeritus at the University of British Colombia, researched the universal practice of creating stories, which over time become “myths” or legends– as in the Loch Ness Monster, King Arthur, Robin Hood, or Paul Bunyan. Traditional myths and folklore defined personal experience. They shaped social life, and offered hope, and meaning to the unexplainable in times when there was little scientific advancement.

However in today’s world, with science influencing every aspect of our lives, current myths of aging strongly influence our present culture. But, like all myths, these anti-aging mythologies are based on half-truths and false knowledge. Unfortunately they are usually stated as culturally accepted stereotypes, in our case, ageist stereotypes.  Current misconceptions of aging often reinforced in the media and the literature of aging are not merely folklore. They are intentionally misrepresented statements pretending to inform, often in order to sell products and services. But in reality these proclamations only reinforce misunderstandings, and give wrong information about aging as experienced by the vast majority of older people.

The good news? As I love to say, there is a sea-changing coming! So many good people and so many different sources from the media (Think “Grace and Frankie,” Sophia Loren’s new movie, and those silver-haired beauties in print and TV ads) are changing the way us older adults are portrayed. All of these create a more realistic picture of what it looks like to have some experience under our belts.

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

myths regarding aging

Myth: There Are No Myths Regarding Aging

Seriously?

Yes, Virginia, many younger people believe they invented cool”and “hip,” just like they think they invented sex. (No kidding.) Actually, thanks to the jazz world, these terms became part of our conversations over seventy years ago. They were not invented in the 1990’s as many young people think, nor were the attributes that made one cool and hip or a “hipster.” Now as far as style is concerned, well, to quote one researcher, “Seniors have been around the block a few times. Which means they know how to shake a leg, how to cut a rug, and more importantly, how to dress to the nines.” We may have traded our stilettos for cute wedges or flats and given up torturing shapewear (um, girdles) under our skintight spandex dresses, but  even now, using the data base in our heads that is filled with decades of fabulous fashion tips, we can still make an entrance that leaves mouths open and eyes filled with awe and admiration. That’s style!  

seniors have no style