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L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Gerontologist

Myth: All Older (OLD) People Are the Same

mythbuster older people

When questioned, many younger people have very limited views of older people. Pioneer researcher, Dr. Mary Lee Hummert found this to be true when comparing the views of younger and older people. Further research expanding on Dr. Hummert’s findings show that younger people think seniors are all pretty much the same. This is especially true for older seniors, who get distilled into having the same few traits. From the multitude of facets making up the personality, disposition, and physical attributes of any person, younger people condense this host of identifying characteristics into a few simplified traits which all older people share. Of course, the older adults in the studies cited many more nuanced aspects, and a far more complex view of themselves and folks older than themselves.

Myth: All Older (OLD) People Are the Same

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

Here are some final beliefs that need setting right:

Myth #2: Newly-hired Older Tech Workers Are Not Paid Equitably.

According to Visier’s findings, a website to “help organizations create a better future with data,” if you are an older adult, your starting pay is not, on average, lower than that of a younger hire. It seems that new employees are paid the same as more tenured workers, where ever they fall on the age timeline.

Myth # 3: Older Workers In Tech Resign At Higher Rates.

Looking at all the employees on both sides of the forty-year mark, first year resignations among the entire spectrum average 10%, with older workers staying in the job at basically the same rate as younger hires. I found it very interesting that first year resignations among Millennials to be much higher in non-tech industries than in the tech world.

Again, not being in the tech world, I welcome all thoughtful discussion about these beliefs. Thank you!

Myth: Older Tech Workers Are Less Valued Part II

It is true that the average person working in the technology industry is five years younger than those workers in the non-tech world, leading many of us to believe that younger is more valued in this field. However, according to Visier, a website founded by business analytical experts to help “educate and inspire business users to become data-driven leaders,” when tech geniuses turn forty, the matriculate to the “Tech Sage Age.” These TSAers increasingly receive top ratings for their performance, experience, and mature insights. (You gotta love that!) Interestingly, according to Visier, this is the opposite of the decline in numbers of older top performers in non-tech fields.

I do wonder if this is true for women, as well as men……I would love to hear your thoughtful comments from those in the tech industry!

Myth: Older Tech Workers Are Less Valued

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