11 Ageist Myths that are Socially Accepted—It's Time to Change

Kate Bunting
Posted October 4, 2019 from United States

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.

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http://fundamentalrightsforum.eu/en/frf/blog/ageism-last-acceptable-form...

https://www.asaging.org/blog/not-doctors-only-ageism-healthcare

https://www.forbes.com/sites/teresaghilarducci/2019/04/28/who-is-too-old...

https://www.nextavenue.org/fight-age-segregation/?utm_source=sumome&utm_...

https://www.ageinternational.org.uk/policy-research/publications/older-w...

https://www.ageinternational.org.uk/policy-research/publications/older-w...

https://www.ageinternational.org.uk/policy-research/publications/older-w...

https://www.ageinternational.org.uk/policy-research/publications/older-w...

https://www.ageinternational.org.uk/policy-research/publications/older-w...

Comments 30

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Beth Lacey
Oct 04
Oct 04

You said it, sister

Kate Bunting
Oct 15
Oct 15

Thank you for your support!

Tarke Edith
Oct 04
Oct 04

Hi Kate
Thanks for sharing
You know dear there is time for everything
A time to be born and a time to get old.
Have a great day dear

Kate Bunting
Oct 15
Oct 15

Thank you for taking the time to read our piece.

maeann
Oct 04
Oct 04

Hi Kate,

Thanks for sharing about Ageist Myths. What is important is that the family will never abandoned the elderly and that they still fell loved and respected.

Kate Bunting
Oct 15
Oct 15

Well said.

Lisbeth
Oct 04
Oct 04

Dear Kate,
Thanks for these interesting findings for us about ageing. I am now trying to find out how I might look when I get to that age. I don't like that of Facebook app, it makes me look much younger even in my 90 ties hehe.
Hope you are doing very well and have a great weekend.
Regards

Kate Bunting
Oct 15
Oct 15

Thank you for taking the time to read our piece!

Lisbeth
Oct 15
Oct 15

It's a pleasure. :-)

ANJ ANA
Oct 05
Oct 05

Dear Kate,
thank you for the sharing a woderful information. The age issue is always been in shadow but it is very critical and important issue.
keep writing on this please.
best regards,
anjana ,

Kate Bunting
Oct 15
Oct 15

Thanks for the support!

Anita Shrestha
Oct 05
Oct 05

Dear Sister
It is good idea to share good things and knowlagebale things, we should respect everybody, child to elder people. Without humanity nothing could do

Kate Bunting
Oct 15
Oct 15

I completely agree with you.

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 05
Oct 05

Hi Kate,
Thank you so much for this excellent and needed busting of myths related to age. Old women in particular are at best sidelined and at worst pushed out or killed, seen as being superfluous.
These stand out for me: "healthy aging deserves priority". We all get old if we are lucky to live long enough. "...64 (the survey’s median age) was perceived as being too old to be considered for employment". Many of us have worked in jobs without pensions. Even Government pensions when we are lucky to live in countries that offer them are not enough to live. Women in Canada fought in the 1970's for the right to work past 65. "...old vs. young" We have so much to offer each other. "...contributions decline as we age" by aging I am finally able to figure out how to be more effective as an activist. "...always revered and taken care of by their families" Unfortunately old people, especially old women are seen as a burden. This is an issue that needs to be taken seriously as we work for change. Too many old women are being disrespected, treated cruelly, or killed.

Kate Bunting
Oct 15
Oct 15

Yes, we agree that elder rights need to be a top priority for human society. Thanks for your support.

efe
Oct 06
Oct 06

Thank you for highlighting the challenges of a population that is ignored or even seen as a burden. More and more of the elderly are feeling abandoned, misunderstood and isolated. In my country some old people who never had children or who lost their children are viewed as witches who 'ate' their children.

Kate Bunting
Oct 15
Oct 15

I'm sorry to hear that, but I hope that we all can work together to make older adults feel accepted in our hearts.

Millynairi
Oct 06
Oct 06

Thanks for sharing. Great information!! I pray that we may age gracefully without challenges.

Milly

Kate Bunting
Oct 15
Oct 15

Thank you for your support.

Qurratulayn Khan
Oct 07
Oct 07

Hello Dear,
Quite informative information, thank you

Kate Bunting
Oct 15
Oct 15

Thank you.

Qurratulayn Khan
Oct 17
Oct 17

welcome dear

esther atosha
Oct 07
Oct 07

thank you sharing these informations

Kate Bunting
Oct 15
Oct 15

Thank you for taking the time to read it :).

Anne Dupont
Oct 10
Oct 10

Hi Kate,
It IS time to change! Thanks for sharing this important and thought provoking information with us!
Warmly, Anne

Kate Bunting
Oct 15
Oct 15

Thank you for your support!

Anita Shrestha
Oct 16
Oct 16

Dear
Thank you for sharing,

Kate Bunting
Oct 24
Oct 24

Thank you for reading.

chung
Oct 19
Oct 19

no matter their age there still have a part to play in our lives an the society thanks

Kate Bunting
Oct 24
Oct 24

Thank you for taking the time to read this!