Why 4 Popular Myths About Aging Are Wrong!
In this new age of the Longevity Revolution “retiring” is not the end, it is actually a new beginning. Longevity and life expectancy are being redefined and what you make of that new beginning is completely, 100% in your hands. I think that’s exciting, don’t you?
In my research I have discovered 4 myths that have contributed to the creation of society’s negative perception of older people, and I have addressed and responded to those myths, which I believe are either wrong or outdated, below.
It’s about time people in developed nations were made aware that in this era, this has all changed in a very beneficial way, for both the mature people concerned and humanity as a whole.
Myth Number 1 “People of retirement age are too old to start a new career or learn new things”
Research studies have consistently confirmed that mature people are capable of learning as well as younger people, and in fact they have some distinct advantages; It is widely accepted that older people have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and wisdom developed over a lifetime of learning.
They have also developed a higher level of patience and tolerance as they have matured; understanding that “getting to the top at all costs” does not ensure a fulfilling and happy life; in fact in many cases, the opposite is the case.
Most mature people (50+) have learnt that “getting to the top” is not really success; that true success is having a stimulating and fulfilling job, with a balanced lifestyle where family, broader personal growth and pursuing the passions you probably left behind as you chased that dream are of equal importance. They have also learnt that compassion and helping the people they worked with to become the best that they could be, is much more fulfilling than using people as a means to your own end.
Some of the key observations from these research studies have been:
– If only we made the time for learning, we could pick up a new language as easily as kids do,
– A lack of time and self-esteem stand in the way of mature adults picking up new skills,
– we lose confidence in our ability to learn as we age, and
– New scientist said “children are more open and unembarrassed when learning something new.” I.e they are not self conscious about their lack of knowledge as they begin to study a new subject or skill.
In her paper “How do mature learners learn?” Anita Pincas (a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Lifelong Education and International Development [LEID] at the University of London Institute of Education.), made the statement
“ ‘Mature learners’ is a rapidly growing educational sector being distinguished from “adult learners” of a lower age, and it is clear that as a learning group these older students are successful.”
She went on to say “As they live longer, and as they look towards the traditional retirement age, they may in fact be “up-skilling” themselves in order to continue working. On the other hand, many who have reached retirement may be taking the opportunity to prepare for a different kind of work, perhaps something they had always dreamed of doing. At the same time, many others are simply enjoying their newfound freedom to learn for the sake of learning, to meet new friends, and to remain generally active.”
Myth Number 2 “Retirement is the end of a persons useful life”
As I said above; In this new era “retiring” is not the end, it is actually a new beginning, and what you make of that new beginning is completely in your hands.
The reason I say it is completely in your own hands is because, barring unforeseen accidents, contracting an infectious disease or having a very unfortunate catastrophic genetic inheritance, it will be your mindset that determines how long you will live, how healthy and mobile you will be and what you will do.
The most difficult issues you will face are:
– What you believe you are capable of doing, i.e. your limiting beliefs. How you think and behave habitually will determine your life path, and you are in control of that. For some of us this may not be an easy to change to make, after all “old habits die hard” but just being aware of it and determined to change to make the most of your later life means you are already 75% of the way there.
– The extent to which you choose to associate with and be influenced by the disbelievers and negative people that surround you; and rest assured they will be there-just look around you, you will know who they are.
A simple way to make this change is to consciously spend more time with people with a positive outlook; get a group of people together to help each other to achieve their goals, or join a more formal group, community or club that has a positive and uplifting agenda; either of these can work wonders for your mindset.
Myth Number 3 “Getting one or more of the diseases associated with aging is inevitable”
Living a healthy lifestyle, keeping a regular check on your critical health measures, nurturing your emotional health and social relationships and avoiding chronic stress can significantly reduce the risk of contracting age related diseases.
Myth Number 4 “My family all died young, so that’s what will happen to me,”
We can minimise the risks associated with our genetic inheritance by taking the recommended health steps, monitoring our key measures regularly, leading a healthy lifestyle, and having the right mindset.
Recent research has revealed that your genetic inheritance contributes 25-33% to the risk of contracting age related diseases.
Unfortunately, although all of these myths are either wrong or outdated, they are still the basis of society’s predominant beliefs and attitudes about older people. What is even worse is that the majority of older people in developed countries also either believe or accept these myths and live their lives accordingly.
A key challenge I included as part of my mission is to change those long held and entrenched beliefs, and I will be asking you to help me to do this by having the right mindset and achieving some great things in your retirement lives.
I will also, if you agree, feature them on my Design Your New Life website and use them as evidence in presenting an ongoing case to make changes in how Governments and most people in the developed Nations view older people. P.S In this context “great things” doesn’t mean changing the world. It just means doing things better than society’s stereotype older person and enjoying your life to the full as you mature.
In fact, if you already have a story you believe would be an inspiration to our fellow travellers, whether it is your own or someone you know, please send me a comment below and I will respond and work with you to create an article we can use to further our cause right now. Every inspirational story we publish will help someone to take the positive steps they need to take towards a better life.