You can teach an old do new tricks; you just may need better tricks. The stereotypes revolving the older adult population are still rampant and are still just stereotypes. The general population doesn’t seem to understand the importance of this 65-plus population and how this one group affects so much of the United States daily operations. The fastest growing population right now is the 90 years of age and older age group. This impacts economic development and sustainability of existing businesses through the types of businesses created to service this group and the continued and increased usage of existing businesses. This group also impacts the entire health care system including the services created and delivered, just to name a few. The 65-plus age group is the largest voting block in the United States. This has significant impacts on how the country is run. These are just a few examples of the importance of this population, so why do so many still believe that this population seems to be inept?
The general population tends to perceive older people as mean or grouchy, forgetful, and a slow group that all will eventually live in nursing homes. None of these are actually correct. “Meanness” is actually a personality characteristic. An individual doesn’t become meaner as they age. In all likelihood, this individual has always been mean. It is just perceived different because of the person’s age. The older person may be grouchy at times, but people of all ages become grouchy and it is generally related to temporary illness, pain, or depression. Most older adults aren’t forgetful either. Older age doesn’t mean an automatic loss of memory. We all forget where we put things at times, older people are no different. They lose their keys just like younger groups do. Rate of learning in older adults is slower but is existent. The older adult may just need extra time to complete a task or to learn at his or her own pace. So, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Finally, most older adults continue to live at home until the end of their lives. Generally less than 10 percent move to permanent long-term care housing from their home.
Our society should embrace this population, be aware of the stereotypes surrounding them and understand the importance of the contribution of this group to our community.