The Five Myths Of Aging
The five myths of aging are tied to our optimism. As seniors, we are incredibly optimistic. When asked, we say we’re doing great (given our age), we’re happy, and we believe our health is alright and likely to get better with time. After all, these are our golden years! But are they?
In our research, Carmen and I uncovered five commonly held false beliefs or myths about aging that we call age hysteria.
We will address them individually in longer posts later, but here is the skinny on CarePlanIt’s Five Myths of Aging.
1. I don’t want to be a burden on my family
2. Our retirement years are our golden years
3. I will learn what I need to know about aging when I get older
4. You are only as old as you feel
5. I can’t change anything; why try
I don’t want to be a burden on my family
Almost everyone says it: I don’t want to be a burden on my family. Yet studies show that as many as 50% of adult children provide financial support to their senior parents in any given year, and 45% provide non-financial care. Over time these numbers approach 85%. In other words, throughout a lifetime, adult children will help and support their parents. So unless you raised a sociopath, you will become a burden, and your children will help. That said, a little care planning can minimize the burden on your children.
Our Retirement Years Are Our Golden Years
Sure, some people have golden lives: perfect educations, perfect marriages (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), perfect children, perfect careers, and perfect childhoods. For the 99% of the rest of us, life is hard work. As we grow older, we don’t get stronger, smarter, wealthier, or healthier. Seventy percent of us will have two or more chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or COPD. Financially, sixty-five percent of people over 65 will have an annual income under $35,000. Half of these people will have a yearly income under $25,000. But through a little care planning, we can increase the odds of having silver years and moving toward gold.
I Will Learn What I Need To Know About Aging When I Get Older
There’s a lot to learn in life, and once we reach sixty or seventy, we’ve done a lot of learning. We spend much of our lives learning from those who’ve been through what we’re going through. Mothers teach us to mother. Fathers teach us to father. Our friends with children help us learn about parenting. Aging is different. The physical, psychological, cultural, and emotional challenges seniors face is different than what non-seniors face. The way our minds work in developing techniques to deal with aging problems starts at birth and builds in layers over time. By the time we’re middle-aged, most of us have a psychology that impairs our ability to learn about aging issues. To optimize aging options, you’ll need to change your approach and do a little care planning.
You’re only as old as you feel
Researchers have found that seniors who feel young (i.e., have a positive attitude about aging) have better health, quicker recoveries from illness, and better capabilities on day-to-day tasks. Can we use these findings in other areas as well? You’re only as poor as you feel. You’re only as lonely as you feel. You only cook as bad as you feel? In other words, does feeling something make it so? It’s great you feel young. But youthful feelings have not prevented anyone from aging or facing the challenges of aging. You can use positive emotions for better care planning.
I Can’t Change Anything; Why Try
Carmen and I heard many “old-old” seniors (seniors in advanced old age) tell us they were just waiting. You’ve probably heard the phrase “God’s waiting room,” used to describe senior homes. God’s waiting room is a metaphor for fatalism. The word fatalism comes from the word for death. As seniors, it is easy to believe our lives are fated. Death is coming, and there’s nothing we can do. So why try? It’s easy to get caught in a spiral of depression and isolation. With proper care planning, old age offers lots of opportunities for growth, self-awareness and happiness.
CarePlanIt helps seniors and their families navigate aging-related issues. Learn about our framework here.
Forbes has an interesting article here about our Golden Years.