Defying the Senior Myths

RidgewoodAssisted Living, Elderly Care, Healthy Senior Living, Independent Living, Retirement Living, Senior Living

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Whoever said that it’s all downhill after fifty obviously never heard of Betty White. At age 93, Ms. White is still actively enjoying television and comedic success. According to some stereotypes, a woman of 93 should be hunched over in a recliner with a broken hip, grumpy and alone with only her knitting needles as company. Is that the inevitable fate for all of us who live to be a certain age? Ms. White’s recent appearance on Saturday Night Live, where she shared a lengthy kiss with 40-year-old actor Bradley Cooper, suggests otherwise.

What are the common misconceptions about getting older, and some of the ways that seniors such as Betty White are shattering the myths about aging?

  1. Seniors are inactive.

Many folks enjoy some of their finest vacations, projects, and pastimes once they hit the age of retirement, while others continue to work well into their seventies (or nineties, in Ms. White’s case). For many, living a sedentary life is not in the cards, nor in their wishes.

  1. Seniors are fragile and ill.

While it’s no lie that a person’s body changes with age and a certain elastic resilience is lost, that does not mean that with a healthy diet and exercise a person cannot be in great shape in their golden years.  Ernestine Shepherd is a 79-year-old body builder and fitness coach, who, in 2010, was declared the World’s Oldest Performing Female Bodybuilder by the Guinness Book of World Records. Ms. Shepherd did not get into fitness until she was 56. Many over fifty have turned to lifestyle changes in order to improve their overall health and well-being, and report feeling healthier than they have in years.

  1. Seniors don’t have sex/can’t be sexy.

Many aspects of life improve with time, experience, and an open mind…sex being one of them. Our bodies are ours to inhabit until the day we die, and there’s no reason not to enjoy sensual pleasure for as long as we wish. 88-year-old Playboy tycoon Hugh Hefner seems to dispel this particular myth while enjoying the married life with his new wife, who happens to be sixty years his junior. Hefner is widely known for having a revolving door of young girlfriends, as well as still playing an active role in the wildly successful magazine which he founded.

As for the notion that older people can’t be sexy…two words: Jessica Lange. Enough said.

  1. Seniors are lonely.

While some seniors may not have a network of family and loved ones, loneliness is not an inevitability (just ask Mr. Hefner!). In fact, there are numerous dating websites dedicated to helping the over-fifty crowd find companionship. Sites such as Ourtime, Match, and eHarmony have dedicated spaces for older folks looking to meet someone new.

  1. Seniors aren’t mentally sharp.

Those who actively exercise their minds with activities such as reading, writing, and puzzle-solving, tend to retain and improve upon their mental acuity much more than those who languish in front of a television screen all day. Flexing one’s mind muscles is key to staying quick, despite one’s age.

Even if you’re a senior who happens to fit the quiet, homebody, grandparent stereotype, or you prefer a quiet evening at home versus lifting weights at the gym or going out trying to attract a much-younger suitor, that doesn’t mean you can’t live on your own terms, and say to hell with the notion that youth is better.

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