Ageing is a normal phenomenon since growth is an attribute that typifies the human race. This piece identifies and explains popularly held myths about ageing and aged people. Furthermore, it discusses the implications of such mythological beliefs concerning ageing on societal attitudes toward older people. Indeed, the discussion of the resultant myths is based on the evidence present in the paper.
Popular myths about ageing and aged people and implication on old people
The most popular myth suggests that a significant fraction of the elderly people emanate from developed regions; however, substantiated suppositions indicate they live in developing countries (Hooyman & Kiyak 2005: 69). In addition, people believe that elderly people often exude similar tendencies, yet this is untrue. This is partly attributable to genetic differences, which determine the ageing process amidst such persons. Consequently, it is mythical to believe that females, as well as males, age differently because scientific proof postulates that women have a slightly higher life expectancy as compared to men (Hooyman & Kiyak 2005: 69).
Additional myths indicate that the elderly is frail and register zero contributions to the societies where they live. These myths suggest that old people are economic burdens; however, research provides factual reports, which prove that indeed the elderly people offer significant contributions to the economy (Hooyman & Kiyak 2005: 69). In many countries, old people engage in tasks within divergent departments because are experienced and hold the requisite expertise. According to Hooyman & Kiyak (2005: 69), the concept of active ageing needs to spread to people approaching the ageing period.
The phenomenon of ageing becomes manifest in different ways amidst people depending on documented issues. For example, health status and social-cultural circumstances are instrumental in deducing diverse phenomena attributable to ageing. Many psychologists consider the phenomenon as influencing the expectations of diverse societies. Ponto (2005: 39) depicts that age is merely a measure of the time, which an individual spends on earth. He asserts that the development of most individuals depends on their general levels of maturity.
The theory of social disengagement propagates that people shun societal activities in a piecemeal manner when they grow old. Consequently, members of society avoid engaging aged people in different activities. Usually, disengagement arises from the following factors. First, old people move from their previous habitual jobs while others make a deliberate choice to experience a process that they missed in their youth (Hooyman & Kiyak 2005: 70). However, there are opposing views, which suggest that disengagement occurs because of personality traits.
Additional contradictory suggestions postulate that the lives that people enjoy during their prime significantly contribute to the diminishing relations between the development of human beings during their early childhood and old age. Humanistic perspectives argue that the peak of human life is the actualization stage. However, A significant proportion of old people fail to reach the actualization stage since it requires a high echelon of self-worth (Ponto, 2005: 41). In addition, other cognitive perspectives postulate that old people alter their attitudes with time. These old people experience retrogression based on how their bodies respond to external stimuli. In particular, it is evident in psychology that old people are vulnerable to impaired memories.
The elderly maintains their intellectual abilities throughout their old age. In case, concept mastery is difficult, suggestions postulate that intense training can help. Variably, cognitive capabilities differ per definite age groups and previous experiences. Ponto (2005: 40) depicts that most views that people hold regarding old people are greatly borrowed from subsidiary sources. Old people display different changes like anxiety and slight depressions. These persons experience cases of trepidations such as fear of death or close relations. Moreover, old people’s stress levels increase when they grieve due to the loss of friends. This is because such losses remind them of their imminent death.
Lingren (2012:4) describes ageing as a happening that is subject to unfair judgments. He coins the term ‘AGEISM’ in his attempt to highlight various biases which most people apply about old age. Further, he affirms that myths that are associated with such a definite process supersede other myths. For example, people suppose that it is an ailment. This is because of the ineptitude of bodily functions that most old people experience.
Various changes evident in old people include the transformation in colour and texture of their hair, sagging of their skin and fragility in their body shapes. According to Lingren (2012: 4), these are the most evident characteristics of ageing, which negatively affect old people. He affirms that the skin of a human being is greatly exposed to environmental harshness, a process that harms the skin. Furthermore, old people experience problems with their eyes and ears. Variably, elderly people continuously lose their ability to remember since their thinking aptitude lessens with time. It is essential to acknowledge that most of the elderly respond well to medications when chronic diseases attack them.
According to McMurray (2003:193), health issues characterize late adulthood for men and financial instabilities for women. Moreover, they tend to re-marry during their late adulthood for them to feel younger and sexier. Lingren (2012: 4) contradicts the idea that old people change their characteristics in their old age. DCOS (2012:1) further affirms that it is not true that older people are stubborn and find comfort in familiar people and places.
Concurrently, Mumel & Prodnik (2005:434), investigate deep the myth that older people have similar characteristics. They refer to old people as the grey bazaar; thus, provoking researchers to explore such a phenomenon. Additionally, there are various stipulations, which offer that such older people substitute the youth in the market. Indeed, old people offer markets for many new products in different locations of the world.
Assorted studies reveal that older people have different needs; therefore, manufacturers of products ought to consider such a concept when they create divergent products. Indeed, the elderly adore the clothing market because they make significant efforts to buy clothes to feel youthful. It is evident that people who suggest that old people bear similar elements conform to mythological mind frames. It is noteworthy to mention that the grey market exudes significant levels of sensitivity to suggested prices of different pieces of clothing. Indeed, they spend minimal amounts and go to shopping malls less frequently than young buyers go.
According to McMurray (2003: 194), there was once a belief by many people, which insinuated that old age marked the conclusion of an individual’s life. New technologies and contemporary innovations aid elderly people in surpassing challenges that affect them.
The world’s population houses old people who constantly trigger the establishment of special health facilities to address their divergent needs. Consequently, there ought to be the constant promotion of quality health for the elderly due since they are vulnerable. Campaigns, which urge old people to take good health care of them, are important in the search for healthy ageing. Older persons suffer more from disorders affiliated with the heart and mind; therefore, their special attention on heart and mind matters should exist. Some medical reports over the world indicate that female old people have more resilience to accident misfortunes, which befall old people compared to their old counterparts.
Poor countries suffer a significant blow attributable to old people because of social and economic reasons, which affect progression amidst such entities. Evidently, lifestyle factors also contribute to intense problems which many people experience. For instance, people who are above sixty-five years old engage in detrimental activities such as feeding on fatty foods, which their bodies cannot properly digest and later utilize.
Singh-man out & Kivimäki (2010: 510) suggests that the elderly must observe healthy ageing when they consume a healthy diet and ensure their environment is clean. Further, it is depicted that these old people need to be treated with dignity and discriminations against them discouraged. Governments and other social institutions should make necessary preparations for old people before they reach old age (Singh-manoux & Kivimäki 2010: 510). Finally, concerned institutions need to invest in suitable hospitals for the old people because old people have special health requirements.
Gender influences the process of ageing since the difference in the manifestation of ageing traits of the two sexes is striking. For instance, a condition, which is referred to as osteoporosis, has fewer effects on old men. This condition makes most females have a painful loss of their bone mass then become vulnerable to accidents, which lead to divergent accidents. Marshall (2011:393) focuses on the relation of ageing and activities affiliated with intimacy. He confirms that study reports make the revelation that ageing decreases the levels of sexual relationships. However, other factors have minimal connections with old age, which contribute to such an association.
Widowhood in old age presents negative issues that old people ought to address. They experience a de-stabilization of their emotions when their life partners die during their old ages due to the fondness, which would have developed in their prime years. It is reported that widows generally respond poorly to the death of their spouses and may fail to make sound decisions on important issues, which affect them. For example, deciding on where to invest their retirement finances. Because of widowhood during old age, these old people embrace various forms of spirituality for them to get solace in their remaining lives. Marshall (2011: 393) proves that very huge numbers normally flood religious places because such settings offer solace.
According to Cookson (1998: 1), society presents many stereotypes, which in turn compel old women to risk their lives by embracing dangerous and costly cosmetic surgeries. This process of ageing interests many theorists who provide the following suppositions; the wear and tear theory, autoimmune theory, cellular ageing theory among many more theories, which explain the elongated process of ageing.
Dykstra (2009: 6) depicts that the value and quality of the lives of old people are displayed when they intermingle with other members of their respective societies. In his article that focuses on loneliness, he presents that the world perceives old people as the loneliest category in society. Further, in the article, there are suggestions that older adults are loners because most young people consider them boring to be around (Coughlin & Dambrosio 2009: 85). The world has experienced a notable decrease in cases of adult loneliness because old people in the contemporary world seek extra identity from younger generations who lessen their levels of loneliness (Coughlin & Dambrosio 2009: 85). Moreover, it is not true to postulate that in certain societies, an increased case of old age loneliness is imminent because demographic evidence cannot be relied upon (Coughlin & Dambrosio, 2009: 85).
According to the World Health Report (2006: 1), older people initiate massive roles; thus, positively contributing to the world’s growth in aspects such as a nation’s economic development. The report introduces various elements of active ageing in people’s lives. Furthermore, it posits that with a little effort, individuals could reduce their ageing by staying healthy throughout their life (World Health Report, 2006: 4).
People should acknowledge that ageing is a usual procedure, which everyone must go through. As such, they need to accept that the process can slow down or be made less drastic through approaches such as eating healthy. In addition, they can make use of appropriate surgeries to advance their levels of self-esteem. Besides, young people should not apply the widely known myths about old people because the myths lead to discrimination. There should be establishments of institutions, which care for the old people who lack close relations. Finally, old individuals need affection from members of their communities.
Cookson, C. (1998). Old and grey but still in good shape: science ageing: Clive cookson looks at research into how an ageing population can maintain a good quality of life. Financial Times. Web.
Coughlin, J. & Dambrosio, L. (2009). Seven myths of financial planning and baby boomer retirement. Journal of Financial Services Marketing 14(1), 83-91.
DCOS. (2011): Ageing Myth and Reality. Web.
Dykstra, P. (2009). Older adult loneliness: myths and realities. Eur J Ageing 6:91–100.
Hooyman, N. & Kiyak, H. (2005). The Social Consequences of Physical Aging’: Social gerontology: a multidisciplinary perspective.7th ed. Boston, Mass: Pearson: Allyn and Bacon.
Lingren, G. (1991). Myths and Facts about Aging. Corporative Extension Services. Web.
Marshall, B. (2011). The Graying of “Sexual Health”: A Critical Research Agenda. Canadian Sociological Association.
McMurray, A. (2003). ‘Healthy ageing’: Community health and wellness: a socioecological approach / Anne McMurray. 2nd ed. Marrickville, N.S.W: Mosby.
Mumel, D. & Prodnik, J. (2005). Grey consumers are all the same, they even dress the same – myth Or reality?” Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management 9, 4 434 – 449.
Ponto, M. (2006).‘The psychology of human ageing’ In: Nursing older people / edited by Sally J. Redfern, Fiona M. Ross. 4th ed. Edinburgh; N Y: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.
Singh-manoux, A. & Kivimäki, M. (2010). The importance of cognitive ageing for understanding dementia. Age Journal 32(4), 509-512.
World Health Organization (WHO) Report, (2006). Ageing: Exploding the Myths. New York, NY: Brundtlan.