Danielle McCarthy

Caring

Ageing: myths vs. reality

Ageing: myths vs. reality

Despite having an ageing population, negative attitudes and stereotypes about older people persist in our country, despite usually being wildly incorrect. As anyone over 60 will tell you, everyone in their golden years is just as opinionated, thoughtful, cheeky and youthful as they were back in their 20s – if not more so. So with this in mind, let’s bust some of the most common myths about ageing and set the record straight.

Myth no. 1: Older people are an economic burden

This is absolutely false. Not only do many over 60s continue to contribute to the workforce, but in 2006, 78 per cent of over 60s generously made personal donations to charity, plus around a quarter of carers and volunteers are 65 or older, according to the Queensland government. And that’s not to mention the fact that many older Australians are keen domestic travellers, taking an estimated eight million overnight trips in 2005 alone.

Myth no. 2: Older people are physically unwell or declining mentally

Only 6 per cent of people over the age of 65 were recorded as living in nursing homes as of 2011 – the majority continue to stay active both physically and mentally. Seniors are continuing to explore their creativity and expand their minds with university courses, community classes and through hobbies.

Myth no. 3: Older workers are less efficient and less productive than younger workers

Sadly, senior employees have more trouble finding work and are more likely to be made redundant. However, older workers who continuously evolve their skills are just as capable as their younger counterparts. Around half (51 per cent) of 60- to 64-year-olds are still in the workforce, plus 24 per cent of 65- to 69-year-olds, and this number is only growing.

Myth no. 4: Older people have no interest in physical intimacy

It’s a common misconception that our sex lives come to a halt after 60, but this is largely incorrect. The libido does change over time, but sexual relationships continue to be both physically and emotionally beneficial as we age. In a 2000 study published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing, most over-60s stated that they wanted to remain sexually active in the future.

Which ageist myths have you encountered and how did you prove them wrong? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.