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Myth 9: Old Age is Typically Associated with Increased Dissatisfaction and Senility (50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology)

If you are told to picture someone who is lonely, depressed, unable to keep up with technology, dependent, forgetful, physically weak – you may imagine an older person. But many of these perceptions are false.

Our impressions of the elderly are cystalized at a young age. In Snow White, one of the seven dwarves, “Grumpy”, gives us the impression that the older one gets, the less satisfied and competent they become. In the Sopranos, Tony’s mother, Livia, tries to organize a hit on Tony because he tried to admit her into a nursing home. And his demented uncle, Junior, shoots Tony, thinking he was an enemy who died 20 years earlier.

Depression afflicts nearly 15 percent of the elderly, but old people on average report higher satisfaction than younger people. And interest in sexual activity does not wane. In a study, over 75% of men and 50% of women between the ages of 75 and 85 reported that they were still interested in sex. Health problems, like obesity and diabetes, were much better indicators of sexual activity than ageing.

In King and Queens, Arthur Spooner plays an old man who struggles to keep up with modern demands, like operating a DVD player. But many older people find the time to learn about new technologies and master them. The saying ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is false.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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