Myth #1: Old age is synonymous with poor health.
Busted: This stereotype perpetuates poor-quality medical care that disregards genuine symptoms of illness as inevitable effects of aging. In fact, socioeconomic standing and education level correlate with the health and functioning of older people more than just a person’s age itself. We must work to assert that healthy aging deserves priority in our health systems.
Myth #2: Older people can be simplified into one homogeneous group.
Busted: Among adults 60+, unbelievable diversity exists across cultural backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, sexual orientations, family structures, & disabilities. These factors MUST be considered to properly #BustAgeism.
Age-based discrimination cannot remain unchallenged. The prejudice continues to negatively affect the ever-growing older population whose members are “waiting for their human rights to become a reality,” as stated by a UN Independent Expert (1).
Myth #3: Older people’s rights are only a concern for older people themselves.
Busted: Infringements on older people’s rights are a problem for everyone, especially the young. According to OECD, younger generations “face greater risks of inequality in old age due to growing inequalities in education, health, employment and earnings.” #BustAgeism
An aging population is not a looming burden; it’s an opportunity. #BustAgeism
Myth #4: When people reach a certain age, they become sexually inactive.
Busted: 53% of adults 65–74 years old and 26% of adults aged 75–85 years reported having sex with at least one partner in the previous year (2). #BustAgeism
Myth #5: Ageism is not a real problem.
Busted: The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that the age of 64 (the survey’s median age) was perceived as being too old to be considered for employment by a majority of the employers they surveyed. Although it is illegal to use age as a determining factor for employment, ageism clearly still affects decisions in practice (3).
Myth #6: It’s old vs. young.
Busted: According to new research from Generations United and the Eisner Foundation, 94% of Americans studied agree that older people have the skills to help address young people’s needs. On the flip side, 89% of the surveyed Americans also believe that young people can help their elders too (4).
Myth #7: Our family and work contributions decline as we age.
Busted: On average, older women provide 4.3 hours of unpaid care and domestic work each day (5).
Older people work—and are increasingly likely to work—past 60 years of age. Figures from the United Nations reveal that over 70% of men and nearly 40% of women over 60 years of age continue to work.
Myth #8: Governmental social safety nets already take care of older people.
Busted: Less than 16% of older people residing in low-income countries have access to a pension (6).
Myth #9: Older generations have no impact on the future generations.
Busted: A study of 33 Sub-Saharan African countries revealed that living with one’s grandmother has a positive impact on a child’s education. These living arrangements help to prevent interrupting the child’s education — specifically girls’ educations — for housework (7).
As many as 25% of Sub-Saharan African families — AKA the countries most affected by HIV and AIDS — are skipped-generation households where “working age” adults have died (8).
Myth #10: Older people do not contribute to their communities.
Busted: A study of community work in Asia shows that more than 25% of women in their 60s or 70s in India volunteered in their communities — on top of the unpaid work they already do for their own households (9).
Myth #11: Older people — especially in Asian cultures — are always revered and taken care of by their families.
Busted: A 2015–16 survey by All India Senior Citizens’ Confederation revealed that 60% of older people living with their families face abuse and harassment. In addition, 66% of the surveyed older people were either “very poor” or living below the poverty line, and 39% had been abandoned by their family and/or live alone.