Common Stereotypes About Seniors Debunked

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Generalizations about seniors can misinform others and affect how seniors are treated. Many stereotypes endanger senior safety and erode self-esteem. Since generalizations about aging adults can impact the quality of care provided to them, it is important to refute these misconceptions. 

Nutrition Fiction

Many people believe seniors need little food since they have slow metabolisms. Your loved one may have a poor appetite, but he or she still needs substantial, healthy meals. Aging impairs the ability to absorb nutrients. Physicians have observed that seniors are often deficient in vitamin B12, folate, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Older adults also tend to be dehydrated.

Weight loss is one of the many signs of malnutrition. Your loved one may exhibit disorientation, confusion, lethargy, and forgetfulness. You might think these are signs of dementia, but they typically indicate nutritional shortfalls. Lack of proper nutrition can make your loved one weak, and he or she may need assistance with daily activities.

There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading Mississauga, Ontario, in-home care provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life.  

Cognitive Fallacies

One of the most popular myths about seniors is that they all become senile with age. However, according to the most recent study by the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the percentage of seniors with dementia is 0.8 percent in private households and 45 percent in long-term care facilities.

Seniors tend to misplace hearing aids, eyeglasses, wallets, keys, and medications, but these mental lapses are often the result of distraction, not memory loss. “Senior moments” may be triggered by sudden excitement or stress.

Mental exercises such as reading, playing brain games, doing creative work, and solving puzzles increase alertness and cognitive function.

Learning Absurdities

In addition to believing dementia is inevitable, people often think seniors can’t learn new things. However, colleges and universities all over Canada offer courses geared toward older adults. Continuing education programs are often provided free or at reduced fees. As technology gets more user-friendly, elders are becoming more computer savvy. 

For a senior with dementia, you’ll need to challenge his or her mind by degrees. Begin with mild mental workouts and gradually increase the difficulty. In this regard, brain training websites are ideal. 

For example, Lumosity.com designs computer games that strengthen attention, memory, flexibility, processing speed, and problem-solving skills. With a subscription, your loved one can play the games on a regular basis.

Fitness Myths

A common notion is that it’s impossible for seniors to remain physically fit, and your loved one might have this misconception as well. However, a physician will likely praise the merits of physical activity.

Regular exercise can slow bone loss, increase balance, strengthen muscles, enhance flexibility, relieve pain and stress, elevate mood, and sharpen memory.

Moderate physical activity can turn back the aging clock. The key to this process is the telomere. This structure is a protective cap at the end of a chromosome, physically similar to the plastic tip on a shoelace.

Telomeres preserve the DNA on genes, so when chromosomes replicate, their codes aren’t lost. Telomeres also prevent the ends of chromosomes from degenerating.

Scientists have recently discovered that telomeres shorten with age, increasing the risk of disease. However, an enzyme called telomerase adds DNA to chromosomes to reverse the shortening. Moderate exercise fuels telomerase production. Within a few months of starting a workout program, telomeres can lengthen.

The key to beginning an exercise program is taking small steps. Let’s theorize that your loved one’s current capability is walking from the bedroom to the bathroom a few times daily. First, you encourage your loved one to get out of a chair 10 times each day. Then, encourage him or her to walk around the home five times. Increase to ambling down the block and back, adding distance when he or she is able.

In the event your loved one has limited mobility, look for a professional physical therapist. A physical therapist can tailor an exercise program for your loved one. You can also buy exercise DVDs created for seniors.

If you are the primary caregiver for a senior family member and you need respite care, Mississauga, ON, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Our respite caregivers are trained to assist older adults with a wide variety of everyday tasks, including meal prep, physical activity, and personal hygiene. We also provide 24-hour care and specialized care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.

Relationship Fables

A Canadian survey on senior sexuality revealed that intimacy is important to most older adults. The majority of respondents between ages 65 and 74 said they were sexually active. Some of the reasons for increasing sexuality among the elderly include more privacy, less stress, and losing the fear of pregnancy.

The prevalence of senior dating websites is further proof that older adults seek closeness. Though physical attraction is less important with age, seniors still enjoy getting dressed up, going out, and bonding. They like to hug, kiss, hold hands, reminisce, and connect emotionally.

Employment Biases

Stereotypes about job performance hinder many seniors from working. Such prejudices affect their income, health, fulfillment, quality of life, and retirement. Employers often view older workers as a financial risk. They see elders as being less motivated, resistant to change, unwilling to train, and more prone to illness and sick days.

In reality, older workers tend to be punctual, honest, and highly dedicated. Over time, they’ve honed skills in listening, communication, and organization. Seniors typically have integrity, so their word is golden. Pride in working motivates them to excel. 

Generally, older employees handle stress better than their younger counterparts, and age-old wisdom makes them diplomatic and tactful.

Aging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Some only require part-time assistance with exercise or meal preparation, while others are living with serious illnesses and benefit more significantly from receiving live-in care. Mississauga, ON, Home Care Assistance are leaders in the elderly in-home care industry for good reason. We tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual needs, our caregivers continue to receive updated training in senior care as new developments arise, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. Get in touch with one of our professional Care Managers at (905) 337-1200 and create a customized care plan for your elderly loved one.