5 Stereotypes About Aging (That Just Aren’t True)

happy older couple

When Americans think about old age, we tend to predict a slowdown, picturing ourselves in rocking chairs or perhaps in front of the television. Members of the Tarahumara indigenous society in Mexico, on the other hand, believe that they gain strength as they age — and in their 60s remain able to run hundreds of miles while playing a long-distance version of a kickball game [source:Martinez]. The lesson? The way we view the aging process may very well influence how we ourselves age.

The Roman philosopher Seneca considered aging to be a disease, while writers of the era such as Virgil and Juvenal outright ridiculed old age. That may have made aging an even more bitter pill to swallow for the average aging Roman, since researchers have linked negative perceptions of the elderly — among the elderly — in contemporary times with watching television, which often depicts old people in a bad or ridiculous light. Too bad, since another study showed that people over 50 who had negative views of aging lived seven years fewer than people with positive views of aging [source:¬†Peri].

Some of the effects we associate with old age, such as congitive decline, aren’t even necessarily true. For example, tests show that the more physical activity and mental stimulation we seek out and receive, no matter what our age, the better off our brains are — and that holds true for another species as well: dogs. Older canines responded in the same fashion as humans, testing higher on cognitive tests when they received regular mental stimulation and social interaction with other dogs [source:¬†National Institute on Aging].

Keep reading to see what other stereotypes should go to the dogs.

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